Shigofumi: How Suicide Isn’t Just About You

Management: The issue and act of the episodes of these two shows, Shigofumi’s Episode 3: “Friends”, is, of course, a rather controversial point of discussion in popular and private discourse, and so my intention, with this essay, is to posit Shigofumi’s musings on the subject in the respectful, yet thought-provoking way. Additionally, while I may hold a positive opinion overall of this show, this piece in no ways serves as a comprehensive review of the series, but rather an articulation and analysis of an interesting set of ideas brought up.

An Issue Not To Be Taken Lightly

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Suicide. The weightiness of this issue and act is today, undoubtedly, the subject of much study, debate, and crusade in the public arena. You have public health statistics of suicide rates, religious orders, ethical codes, and passionate, personal sentiments claiming moral positions against suicide, news organizations speculating on the latest high profile suicide case. There are families and friends out there who know someone they were close to take his or her own life.

Needless to say, suicide is not something to be taken lightly, both by the people who are considering their stances towards this issue, and for people who are considering the act personally. The contents one shigofumi, from the late Daiki Senkawa, addresses this in one way, narratively speaking.

Classmates, Fathers, and Friends

During lunch break, Tooru Kotake discusses with his friends about this strange curiosity that nearly possessed him one day while waiting for the train. He was thinking of jumping in front of it. The way he explains it, it’s not like he had any acute or chronic underlying traumas, or much in the way of a death wish either. He was just curious what it would be like to jump.

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The next day, his friend Daiki Senkawa was found dead, apparently of his own intentional hand. The school was abuzz, some students troubled but many others eager to get their momentary shot of fame on TV. The local news stations were speculating, news anchors and guests make passes at the possible causes, and news reporters accosting students about details. The local detectives were scrambling to find out why. The official investigation produced the following: A relatively ideal life. His public persona, warm and cheery, evidently matched his private life. He had no problems with bullying at school, nor did he have any issues of abuse at home. He was, by seemingly all accounts, a good student and a good son.

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But there must have been something, everyone including his father wondered, so much so that said father decided to take Tooru’s entire class hostage and conduct a literal shotgun trial to find out.

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Fumika later appears in the midst of it to deliver, by whatever means necessary, Daiki’s shigofumi to Tooru. A shigofumi is a letter (fumi) delivered from the afterlife (shigo). By supernaturally established rule,  the words written on them are the sincere sentiments of the author who wrote them.

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In it, he wrote that he himself became curious of what it would be like to jump. He stated that while he had no particular reason to die, but he had no particular reason to leave either.

And that’s that.

Except that it’s not.

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How Suicide Isn’t Just About You

This particular reason for suicide is fairly uncommon, relatively speaking. The episode posits a number of more relatable causes, bullying at school, abuse at home, and apathy syndrome, which is probably warmest to the actually happened here in this case. The suicide here, however, was framed the way it was as a control factor of sorts, so that we, the audience, aren’t distracted or skewed by possibly interfering elements that’d blur how we’d receive the consequences of suicide. Needless to say, the episode was primarily meant to examine the ripples suicide makes.

So to the matter… why not, says Daiki?

Unlike other people, who get so worked up by anxiety or depression that they kill themselves in the tunneled heat of a bad episode, he made a decision that was supposedly calculated. Nothing about his life matters that much anyway to spare himself the attempt of finding out what lay beyond the act of jumping.

Could you calculate your classmates getting hurt the way they did? Did you account for your father? How about how your friends feel about this? What about this whole mess they ended up in because of your actions? Could you honestly say to your traumatized classmates, your grieving father, and your friends, to their faces, knowing this situation was an inevitable reality, or even a likely possibility, as because of your intellectually motivated reason of…

…why not? Suicide may have more far-reaching and severe effects on people than you think you know. Or did you already calculate for that?

Religious, ethical, or otherwise deep-seated morals aside, suicide isn’t something to be taken lightly. After all, suicide isn’t just about you.

6 thoughts on “Shigofumi: How Suicide Isn’t Just About You

  1. Thanks for posting I really enjoyed reading it. You are right suicide isnt just about you and I wish I had thought about that after my most recent attempt but obviously in the heat of the moment other people were not on my mind.
    Thanks for raising mental illness awareness. Sending positive vibes your way -Phoenix

    • I apologize that my reply’s so late, but thanks for commenting. My next blog post is also related to mental illness, so I invite you to read it when it’s up.

  2. I kind of feel that this episode and its focus on an absurd reason behind suicide blur the real issues, which are depression, bullying etc. I don’t find it positive at all because I think it plays with a strawman argument, a fantastical scenario, which doesn’t help much if you cosnsider the discrimination people with psychological problems already face. Because I have found myself in situations where I wished I was ‘courageous’ enough to terminate my life, and because I do suffer from depression every now and then, I can say that it’s the illness that mutes and discolors everything to the point of despair. The episode at the other hand keeps emphasizing on the ‘decision’ factor, which is rather unfortunate and fake.

    But even if it was something a person decides, I’m against this ‘it’s not only about you’ interpretation. When I start feeling better, when it comes the time that I say to myself ‘I want to live’ I don’t do it for the sake of others. I do it because I believe I haven’t lived and experienced enough things, because I had a childhood stolen from me just to be a good student and make my parents ‘proud’. In short, we don’t live for others. Therefore I also don’t believe in dying for others or avoiding death for the sake of others. If we only do things as not to upset others we don’t truly live, we just survive and slave ourselves to the collective.

    • To be fair, Shigofumi did have an episode that had suicide and bullying. It’s nice, at least, to get different perspectives of the issue.

      It’s more involved than you think in terms of who you’re hurting. Shigofumi’s example in this particular episode isn’t unheard of, and there have been similar cases of people turning violent in order to find answers, but it’s not common with suicide cases either. Welcome to the NHK! has an instance where the discovery of a body in a locale can hurt or destroy businesses and livelihoods that depend on tourists and travelers.

      But more personally, there have been people who’ve committed murder out of passion and instantly regretted it because of the effect it had on their loved ones, not because they felt guilt for committing an act that is unacceptable to some social, cultural, societal collective, but because they brought pain on their loved ones, who have to deal with the fact that their boy or girl is a murderer. Suicide out of passion can be just as cruel to their loved ones, except the suicide victim has the luxury not to be around to witness what potentially would be their loved ones’ grief and agony. A life taken is always a serious matter, and the luxury of not being around to answer for it isn’t really a good excuse. Is the fact the life that one took was one’s own? If one can accept the fact that you might hurt your culture/society, your community, “and” your loved ones… but a person committing suicide out of passion doesn’t consider that. If there was an afterlife, and if people could be asked if they regretted it upon knowledge of their loved ones’ suffering… but they can’t. They can’t reverse the act once it has been done, they can’t make up for it to lighten their pain, and they can’t tell them how they’re doing. Why? Because they’re dead. It’s inadvertent cruelty, but cruelty nonetheless. Is cruelty excusable? Is that particular type of cruelty excusable?

      I’d alter the words of your statement, make it my own (my opinion, in other words), and say that people, objectively, don’t live for others. But they can choose to, and they can choose not to, and that choice is never absolutely one or the other and always subject to change. If a person murders out of self-centered passion, then he or she is currently living for himself. If that same person regrets that murder because of the pain he or she caused his or her loved ones, then he or she is living for others, or at least realizes he or she values others more than himself or herself. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that, because people’s regrets only define them as much as they allow them to define them, if they have regrets. The same phenomenon occur with people who successfully commit suicide, but we’ll never know. It may be fake at the time for the person committing suicide, but it’s very much real for the loved ones who mourn his or her self-inflicted passing.

      • I wouldn’t compare suicide with murder in any case for starters. I never said it’s OK to take away another life and that’s why it’s a crime convicted by law.

        But even if we use your example, you deny seeing that the guilt of hurting those who love you is still based on the feelings of the perpetrator, who might feel them, might not. It’s still about how they perceive reality and mostly about them. How others feel isn’t necessarily the fault of another person. Although I subscribe under ‘the others are the hell’, we can’t not count in the factors personality and worldview.

        If we talk about most suicides that aren’t connected with curiosity, I think another analogy is more apt. If I want to exit an abusive relationship, should I consider really the feelings of the abusive partner and/or what other people are going to say?

      • Some people regret their murders because they personally think murder is wrong. Other people regret murder because of the pain that murder causes to their loved ones. In the second, there’s relatability.

        Whether or not someone is grieving or will grieve is something apart from one’s perception, because it’s that other person’s, and that other person’s alone. Whether or not they perceive grief as grief or care enough to be moved by that grief is another matter. “Mights” and “might nots” might dominate my argument, but they’re not mere hypotheticals. They’re based off something real, out of love and care that has been demonstrated, if not dramatically, in the past.

        I’m not saying that suicide is a no-no in every instance, every time. If you can “live” with the possible reactions to one’s self-inflicted end, then that’s that. Doing it off of a curious or impassioned whim is a different story.

        You bring up an abusive partner, and it might be true that a person contemplating suicide might not care about his or her partner’s reaction in a loving way. But what about his or her parents, siblings, and friends? Will they grieve for him or her, and if so, would he or she be alright leaving them like this? At the very least, one should contemplate the reactions of those that matter to them before taking the plunge.

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