Bullies forced ‘suicide practice’ on Otsu junior high student who killed self: survey

OTSU — Bullies at a municipal junior high school here routinely forced a 13-year-old student who leapt to his death in October last year to do “suicide practice,” according to a student survey conducted by the school.

According to sources close to the matter, 15 students reported in the questionnaire that the victim had been forced to “practice” killing himself. The city board of education did not disclose the finding at its November 2011 news conference on the suicide case.

The parents of the deceased boy filed a lawsuit with the Otsu District Court in February against three students and their guardians as well as the Otsu Municipal Government, demanding some 77.2 million yen in damages. During the first round of oral proceedings in May this year, the Otsu Municipal Government admitted that the boy had been bullied, but also insisted, “We cannot determine that he committed suicide because of the bullying.” The attorney for the plaintiffs is expected to submit a brief based on the school survey results for the second round of oral proceedings, set for July 17.

The survey was conducted on all students at the junior high soon after the second-year student killed himself, and about 320 students responded. Among the responses from the 15 students claiming that the victim had been subjected to the suicide practice were passages including: “He was told to practice taking his own life. He was beaten in the bathroom, and he was told to put a dead sparrow into his mouth,” “He was forced to practice committing suicide over and over again. He asked a teacher for advice, but the teacher didn’t do anything for him,” and “He was forced to practice killing himself during lunch break every day.”

Of the 15 students, 13 said the boy was extorted for money by his “friends,” and that the perpetrators had even bullied the victim into revealing his bank account PIN, which they used to withdraw money. The 15 students also said the victim had been forced to shoplift on the bullies’ behalf.

The 13-year-old boy was found dead at an apartment building near his home on the morning of Oct. 11, 2011, and local police found that he had committed suicide. The boy’s junior high school initially said it was not aware of any bullying. The survey, however, revealed a pattern of systematic and brutal bullying of the 13-year-old at the institution.

Bullying techniques revealed so far include putting the victim in a headlock, crushing him in the name of “training,” pulling down his pants almost every day, and trying to force him to eat dead bees. Teachers witnessed them but they only reprimanded the instigators mildly.

The vice-principal of the junior high school said, “It is true that the questionnaires were conducted. I would like to decline to comment as the (suicide) case is before the courts.”

Naoki Ogi, an education critic and professor at Hosei University, said, “Concealing the facts completely despite so many responses from the students violates the pursuit of truth. Similar incidents have repeatedly occurred in the past, but no lesson has been learned from them. The educational administration has failed to function, and I am beyond shocked.”

July 04, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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