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Saturday, February 17, 2007

WITHDRAWING FROM THE WORLD

The pressures to perform in school and on the job in Japan are legendary, as are the pressures that parents put on their children to keep up appearances. Saito notes another syndrome among young people called "hikikomori" - a withdrawal from society for months or, in some cases, years at a time. Often hikikomori sufferers confine themselves to a bedroom in their parents' home, where many Japanese tend to live until they are married. By some estimates, about 1.2 million young people or about 1 percent of the total have slipped into this state of self-imposed isolation, cutting off contact with the outside, and barely communicating with those around them. As one recovered hikikomori sufferer described the condition in an interview with a Japanese paper, she became much like a "family pet" in the household who did little more than eat and sleep.

In Japan, even for the home-bound, the Internet is one way to communicate. With about 40 percent of the population online, it is one of the world's most wired nations. In addition, there are 1.5 mobile phones for every person in Japan, so trains, shopping malls and schools are beeping with calls, or humming with quiet "instant messaging."

While there is companionship to be found electronically, the online world has its perils.

The inability to express themselves or rebel has fueled the euphoria that Japanese young people feel when they log on and talk to strangers, says Mitsuyo Ohira, a lawyer who wrote the best-selling book "And So Can You" about survival of her own suicide attempts as a teen.

"In the virtual realm of the Internet ... many such youngsters feel they can open up to strangers because everyone is "faceless," so to speak," she said, speaking with the daily Asahi Shimbun about the recent suicides. "They reveal their honest thoughts and their Net buddies reciprocate. This convinces them they have finally met their true soulmates for the first time in their lives. But unfortunately, this is an illusion."

Re: http://www.suicidereferencelibrary.com/test4~id~590.php (2004)

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