Nine found dead in Japanese internet 'suicide pacts'

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The Independent Online

A growing Japanese trend for internet-assisted group suicides claimed its largest single toll yesterday when seven people in their teens and early twenties were found dead in a car in mountains north of Tokyo.

A growing Japanese trend for internet-assisted group suicides claimed its largest single toll yesterday when seven people in their teens and early twenties were found dead in a car in mountains north of Tokyo.

The discovery of the four men and three women in a car park in Saitama was almost immediately followed by that of two women in a car in Kanagawa, south of Tokyo, dead apparently from the same cause: carbon monoxide poisoning.

Police began searching for the largest group after one of the men e-mailed a friend to tell him he was about to take his own life. A police spokesman said: "We believe they got acquainted through the internet."

Dozens of young Japanese have taken their own lives in the past two years after accessing websites and bulletin boards that facilitate suicide pacts.

The latest discovery provoked criticism that the government was not doing enough to tackle the problem.

Osamu Mizutani, who has written a book about social problems among the young, said: "Suicide is a warning sign to the rest of society that we are failing in some way."

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