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Japan’s cyber-suicide trend takes bizarre twist

Posted by ILL Natured_gr on October 12, 2007

Japan’s cyber-suicide trend takes bizarre twist

Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Thursday October 11, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Police in Japan have arrested a man on suspicion of murdering a woman who had paid him to kill her after contacting him through the internet.

Kazunari Saito allegedly fed a large quantity of sleeping pills to his victim, Sayaka Nishizawa, before suffocating her at her apartment in April, local media said.

Nishizawa, 21, had contacted her killer days earlier via his mobile phone website, which he had set up to sell sleeping pills to people who were contemplating suicide.

But in a bizarre variation on Japan’s cyber-suicide trend, Nishizawa reportedly paid Mr Saito 200,000 yen to kill her, imploring him to stay with her until he was certain she was dead.

Police initially attributed her death to suicide, but launched a criminal investigation after noticing that her keys and mobile phone were missing. They tracked Mr Saito down after examining Nishizawa’s email correspondence.

Reports said the woman had sent a message to Mr Saito’s website in early April, saying: “I want to die. How can I die?”

Mr Saito, an electrician, replied: “I will give you lots of sleeping pills. I will help you.”

Mr Saito, 33, allegedly visited her apartment in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, in mid-April and fed her 20 to 30 sleeping pills before suffocating her with a plastic bag. Her body was discovered by her father four days later. It was not immediately clear why Nishizawa had wanted to die.

Mr Saito confessed to the killing while being questioned about illegally supplying sleeping pills to other visitors to his website.

“She asked me to do it,” he was quoted as saying. “She asked me to watch over her until the end, so I killed her.”

He set up the website in June 2006 and continued to post messages up to 10 days before his arrest. He offered to “do anything” for money, including murder and drug-assisted suicide, and asked users to email him on his mobile phone.

Websites aimed at people contemplating suicide first appeared in Japan about five years ago. Although people who kill themselves together after meeting online account for a tiny proportion of the 30,000 Japanese who commit suicide every year, police are disturbed by the apparent appeal of the websites to young people and women.

In March last year, the bodies of nine people “most of who were in their 20s” were found in two suspected group suicides in the space of a week.

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