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The Unspeakable Solution to Japan’s Toxic Fume Suicide Epidemic

with 3 comments

Suicides by the use of toxic fumes have increased dramatically in Japan this year, according to an AP article:

More than 870 people have killed themselves in Japan by inhaling toxic fumes from household chemicals this year, 30 times more than the total for all of last year . . . . Japan has long battled a high suicide rate, and is now in the grip of a wave of deaths from mixing commonly available household products to form poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas. The gas can form noxious clouds that also affect those who happen to be nearby, often triggering mass evacuations.

Toxic fume suicides are especially nasty, because the gasses often injure or sicken emergency workers and others who enter the suicide’s place of death.

Predictably, the only “solutions” proposed by Japan’s government are crackdowns on Internet sites that explain how to make the poison gas, and “anti-suicide programs to help those with depression and other mental health problems” (despite the clearly demonstrated ineffectiveness of the latter).

The obvious, but unspeakable, solution to the problem is to legalize a reliable, comfortable form of suicide that is not dangerous to bystanders – i.e., barbiturate overdose. Legal availability of barbiturates would completely end the practice of toxic fume suicide, at least among those not denied access to the better method.

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Written by Sister Y

October 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm

3 Responses

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  1. You said it…’unspeakable’. As with antinatalism, if you take anything but an unalterably negative stance, you’re ‘giving up’, which is never, never, NEVER acceptable. It’s funny how, on the one hand, death is touted as part of the natural process of life, and yet the only prescribed way to face it is kicking and screaming. You and I have talked about barbituates before, and I think it’s a great idea, curator. I’d like to see centers instituted to help those who would end their lives do it with humane assistance. I’d even be willing to compromise, and require some psychological hoops to jump through, as long as they were never ultimately proscriptive, giving the potential suicide the last word. Of course, a lot of this is tied into the big ‘life lie’ which informs so much of the communal thought process; or should I say, knee jerk reactive process? It’s always an uphill battle, isn’t it?

    jim

    November 2, 2008 at 4:27 am

  2. Japan has really gone downhill, losing much of its cultural heritage and noble customs being replaced by western nihilism and decadence. There used to be a time when taking one's own life was seen as honorable and laudable, certainly not something to be ashamed of or 'prevented'. Japan was a once death-culture, now it's absorbed in the pro-life craze… O tempora or mores.

    In any case you're not going to prevent a determined person from ending his or her own life, the only thing you'll effect is a change in methods with substantially more disastrous failures and even more suffering (for the would-be suicide and for others as evidenced by this article). Boundless optimism (life is good under any circumstances, no really) and the pro-life bias have taken on the guise of a religion, with a heavy toll (treatment, torture, potato potato) and ostracism for those who do not wish to be part of the cult.

    Anonymous

    September 6, 2009 at 12:12 am

  3. I seriously don't think happiness is the general state of humanity, why then should it serve as the baseline for determining what is normal/healthy or abnormal/unhealthy?
    Psychopathology is not so much about facts as it is about value-judgments – homosexuality used to be thought of as a harmful and abnormal condition or problem, now it's regarded as normal and healthy, clearly this has nothing to do with objective criteria and everything with the rather sudden changing emotional response to the same behavior – and the enforcement of certain norms and socially acceptable behavior (the watchdog of the state and public opinion). It is a part of medicine in name only: illnesses affect only the body, suffering that is not brought on by physical dysfunction is a moral problem, not a medical one. If it is true certain mental-illnesses are the product of chemical imbalances in the brain they should be the domain of neurology (the study and treatment of the brain and its disorders), otherwise they're just strange or socially unacceptable behaviors. If these do not result in damage or harm to other people or their property these people should be left in alone (the liberal principle: your freedom ends where someone-else’s begins), if they do they should be arrested and brought to trial.

    True science concerns itself with facts and an explanation of facts, regardless of any emotional reaction to the facts (gravity exists whether or not I consider it a good thing or not). Psychopathological tests and exams are neither valid/reliable (they can be manipulated at will and rely solely on subjective response and assessment of complains by the patient and the equally subjective evaluation by the doctor) nor falsifiable (let three psychiatrists examined the same subject and chances are you'll end up with three different diagnosis). Where is the science or objective truth in all this? Mental illness is a myth and a socio-cultural construct (as all myths are, that's why they differ so much between cultures, defining their identity and highlighting certain key-values that shape those very cultures that spawned them), certainly they're not rooted in biology otherwise all people of all time-periods would always qualify the same behavior as sick or alternatively sane (quod non). On top of that it should actually be possible to effectively treat these so called mental-illnesses with drugs in the same way as physical illnesses (you take your medication and you get better, end of story) so not just waiting until they disappear on their own and then claiming the treatment worked or blaming the patient for the failure of treatment. If you have cancer and the treatment failed your doctors will assure you it’s not your fault, if you have a mental-illness and the treatment fails more often than not you’ll be ‘diagnosed’ with a personality-disorder (this is a clear violation of Ockham’s razor and a potential petitio principii: depression or another axis-I disorder is explained as resulting from a deeper disorder and as proof for that they cite the axis-I disorder: this proves exactly nothing) or at the very least you’ll get accused of sabotaging your own therapeutic process. Simply put you do not want to get better (like any human-being would actually revel in misery) and you should be punished for it, either way nothing was solved. Which begs the question of the justification of further ‘medical’ intervention: if a doctor can’t cure you or at least lessen your pain who cares what he has to say about your condition? It is only natural to seek other means of improvement and relief and the ultimate one is death. We should all be grateful for that, otherwise life truly would be hell.

    Zara

    Anonymous

    September 6, 2009 at 12:13 am


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