Hiroshima boy kills himself after mistakenly told he didn’t qualify for entrance exam

Kyodo, Staff Report

A 15-year-old boy in Hiroshima Prefecture committed suicide in December after his school gave him wrong information about his eligibility for a high school entrance exam, the local board of education announced.

The news follows the suicide last month of another 15-year-old boy, in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in which the student and his 47-year-old mother reportedly hanged themselves shortly after he took a high school entrance exam.

The board of education in Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, said Monday that it did not make the boy’s Dec. 8 suicide public for three months at the request of his parents. They worried the news would shock the school’s other students preparing for entrance exams, the officials said.

The parents were scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday night, following the exams for the prefecture’s public high schools.

According to the officials, the boy, a third-year student at Midorigaoka Junior High School, was found collapsed at home at around 5 p.m. Dec. 8. His father called the police. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was confirmed dead.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

The school said the boy had not been a target of bullying. But based on school records and interviews with his teachers, the board of education found that school officials gave him wrong information when they consulted him on his eligibility for high school entrance exams.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported that the boy had apparently hoped to apply to a private high school, using a system whereby students clearing certain academic criteria are given preferential treatment in the exam process if they make the school their first choice. But the teachers, based on wrong data of his academic performance in junior high school, told him he was not able to use the system.

The board of education said this may have led the student to despair, eventually prompting his suicide. It will soon set up a panel of experts to investigate the circumstances leading to the boy’s death.

  • GBR48

    Over and over again. How many more children’s lives will by flushed down those fancy toilets before Japan, culturally and institutionally, decides that a child’s life is more important than an examination grade, and takes steps within schools and homes to reduce the pressure, making it clear that you love your children more than you love their school reports?

    Children are not robots-they are fragile. They are not all capable of the same educational attainment, and half of all children will always be, in terms of exam scores, below average. This does not make them lazy or expendable.

    Childhood depression can be difficult to spot but the stats suggest that the system, teachers and parents are simply not doing enough to protect Japan’s children.

  • Ben Shearon

    This minor mistake on the part of the school should not lead a student to suicide. Is it not time to reduce the stakes in the insanity of entrance tests? Not making it into your first choice is not the end of the world, contrary to what many parents and students seem to think.

    A more robust clearing system to match up students who missed their school of choice with schools with spaces after the tests would take some of the pressure off.

    • Starviking

      It’s certainly ridiculous that kids face such a high-pressure make-or-break situation in their early teens. It certainly doesn’t help that they often can only apply to one public school – as entrance exams are scheduled for the same day, at least in my area.