Saitama boy and Osaka girl latest bullying-linked suicides

Kyodo

Two junior high school students killed themselves Sunday, adding to a growing list of suicides over suspected bullying at school, and a Kitakyushu principal hanged himself after failing to act against similar harassment at his school.

One case involved a 14-year-old junior high school boy who hanged himself Sunday in a storage area at his home in Honjo, Saitama Prefecture. His school said Monday that a classmate had demanded money from the victim. No suicide note was found, police said.

In Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture, a 12-year-old girl was found dead after an apparent suicide leap Sunday, and her junior high school began investigating Monday on the assumption that she had been bullied, prompting her to kill herself.

The Saitama boy had consulted with a school counselor Nov. 6, saying he was asked to fork over money to another schoolmate when in fact he hadn’t borrowed any money from him, according to Shuichi Nakano, principal at East Honjo Junior High School, where both boys were third-year students.

“He demanded that I pay money to him, and he told me, ‘Give me back 500 yen, or I’ll add interest. Give me 20,000 yen,’ ” the boy was quoted as telling the counselor.

A teacher who was alerted by the counselor talked with the boy the following day, and the school was planning to ask the schoolmate about the case, the principal said.

The boy’s mother found him hanged inside the storeroom at around 7 p.m. Sunday, police said, adding they are investigating the connection between the suicide and the trouble with the schoolmate.

The mother of the Osaka girl told the Tondabayashi board of education that her daughter had been teased at school for being “short,” according to the principal of the public junior high school she was attending.

One of the girl’s classmates said her friends had told her nasty things when she was a sixth-grader.

Students at the school were asked Monday morning to cooperate in answering questionnaires on cases related to possible bullying of the girl.

The girl apparently jumped to her death from her eighth-floor room in a public housing building at around midnight Saturday, leaving behind a note that said, “I will commit suicide. Goodbye,” according to Osaka police.

The girl had told her mother about a week earlier that she did not want to go to school, police said. She lived in the public complex with her parents, a brother and a sister.

In Kitakyushu, Kenji Nagata, a 56-year-old elementary school principal in Yahata-Higashi Ward, was found hanged in an apparent suicide in a forest in the city at around 3 p.m. Sunday, according to police.

During the past year at the school, eight fifth-graders had extorted some 100,000 yen from a 10-year-old girl. The principal was being criticized for having reported the incident to the local board of education merely as a case of “financial trouble.”

He held a news conference Saturday to apologize for his failure to spot the shakedown.

Before Sunday, two other junior high school students committed suicide apparently because they could no longer tolerate bullying at school.

Last week the education ministry received nine anonymous letters apparently written by children vowing to kill themselves if the problem isn’t corrected. It is not clear if any of the suicides Sunday were linked to the letters.