[Letter to the editor]Suicides not an issue for Big Brother

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[Letter to the editor]Suicides not an issue for Big Brother


“In Japan, where 91 people died through Internet-arranged suicide pacts last year, guidelines specifying how police and Internet or mobile phone companies should cooperate on suicide prevention were issued in October 2005.
“According to Japan’s National Police Agency, the number of cases of Internet-arranged suicide has decreased since the guidelines were introduced” (JoongAng Daily, Dec. 3, 2006).
That same national agency also said that the number of suicides rose 7.1 percent to 34,427 in 2003 ― the highest number on record since police began taking statistics in 1978.
Assuming that the number of suicides remained the same since the peak, one out of every 377 suicides in Japan were Internet-related. Since the actual number for 2005 would be off-peak, perhaps 0.0025 percent, attributing the decline to government intervention would be problematic. Besides, the guidelines were introduced in the last quarter of last year. And presumably statistics haven’t been released for this year yet, so the whole thing sounds doubly bogus.
“Early in November, however, the cyber terror center did stop a 15-year-old middle school student from ending his life.” What is a terror center? I assume it checks e-mails ― yours and mine ― for terrorism, but is a depressed 15-year-old prone to undertake violence on a massive scale?
Government agencies are prone to slurp up taxpayers’ hard-earned money. When one gambit doesn’t work, another will surely do.
Richard Thompson, Qingdao, China
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