Suicide Sites Scare Japan

Japanese authorities are beginning to worry whether Internet use there may be dangerous to one's health. Possibly fatal. There are scores of sites that offer ways to end your life and some that will sell the necessary ingredients. \n The latest to stir Japanese anxieties is a Web site operated by a Sapporo science teacher, Nawaki Hashimoto, 27, who called himself Dr. Kiriko, the name of a dark-cloaked character in Japanese comics. According to police, the teacher used pharmacy credentials to buy enough potassium cyanide to kill 3,000 people. \n An investigation shows that eight people ordered the poison pills, paying at total of $2,600 for chemicals that cost Hashimoto about $25. \n A unemployed woman in Tokyo swallowed her dose and died last month. The capsules had been ordered for her by another woman, whom she met during a hospital stay. That woman was hospitalized after attempting to kill herself with cyanide from the Dr. Kiriko site. \n Another woman committed suicide after ordering from the site but it was not certain she died from the capsules he sent to her. \n It's too late to charge Hashimoto with any crime. He was found dead from cyanide poisoning the same day the Tokyo woman committed suicide. His site has been dismantled, though several "mirror" sites popped up, including some thanking Hashimoto and praying for his soul. \n Following the deaths, the Yomiuri, Japan's biggest newspaper, called for tighter control over the dangerous information offered at suicide sites in Japan. Government officials have held discussions but, so far, no new policies have been suggested. \n In the public debate, some have called it unfair to blame the Internet for activities that might just as easily have taken place by telephone. Others attribute the growing interest in suicide to a general malaise among the country's youth.