Japan recorded a total of 91 suicides in 2005 through what is known as group suicides organized through the Internet, up from 55 deaths the previous year, according to a recent survey. The number of group suicides and related deaths almost tripled from 2003, the first year the National Police Agency kept records of the phenomenon.
Group suicides have been widespread throughout Japan in recent years. Users share death wishes via Internet suicide web sites and arrange to meet outside so they can die together. Of the 91 suicides, 54 were men and 37 were women. Thirty-eight were in their 20s while 33 were in their 30s. Nine were in their 40s and eight in their teens.
One case in February last year involved three men and three women in a minivan killing themselves by carbon monoxide intoxication from charcoal stoves. The communications and Internet service industry began collaborative work with the police and managed to reduce the number of group suicide encounters from October through December, according to the survey.