On Wednesday (Japan time), 28-year-old newspaper delivery man Kazunari Saito was arrested in Tokyo for the attempted murder of a suicidal teenage girl who he met online. According to Japan Times, Saito saw the girl’s tweet on Twitter expressing suicidal tendencies that prompted him to contact the girl and lure her to his residence with the promise he would end her life. After the girl arrived Tuesday, Saito strangled her with a string and left her for dead. The girl survived the attempt and escaped from Saito’s home and made contact with her father resulting in police arresting Saito who admitted to authorities that the girl “Wanted it.”
This incident follows very closely on the heels of a familiar case that shook the nation back in October. On Halloween police in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture were looking for a missing 23-year-old woman and ended up at an apartment owned by 27-year-old former supermarket worker Takahiro Shiraishi following events that came right from a Cop Drama show you would see on television! It started when the 23-year-old woman was reported missing and police looked at her twitter and saw her activity and messages between her and user using the twitter handle @HangingPro, one message mentioned meeting at a train station.
Police retrieved security footage from the train station and found the 23-year-old woman with a man leaving the station, not knowing where they went. Shortly afterward a woman contacted police saying she was approached by a man on twitter offering to help her kill herself, it was @HangingPro. With the woman’s cooperation, the police had her message back to the @HangingPro and arrange a meeting at the same train station where the missing 23-year-old woman was last seen. After arriving at the station, the woman met Shiraishi and the two left the platform for his apartment which turned out to be not far away from the train station. Unbeknownst to Shiraishi, he went from hunter to hunted as police officers were following behind him and his would-be next victim. After arriving at his apartment, police apprehended Shiraishi before heading into his apartment of horrors.
The discovery inside the apartment was something out of Silence of the Lambs, officers found the remains of nine individuals who were dismembered and their heads stored inside coolers filled with kitty litter. Three of the victims where high school age and the rest were adults, eight of the victims were female and one was a male, the one thing that connected them all was that they were suicidal and posted it on twitter. Shiraishi was charged with the murders, most likely if convicted he will be given the death penalty which in Japan is by hanging, an ironic end for Shiraishi.
Shiraishi on his twitter profile said “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM me anytime”. Shiraishi told his victims that he would commit suicide as well after he helped them complete theirs. He would give his victims two options, he would strangle them while they are watching TV or he would drug them, strangle them till they go unconscious before actually hanging them. What made this more chilling is what Fuji TV reported what police said Shiraishi told them, “I had no intention of killing myself at all. None (of the victims) wanted to die actually,”
Since what happened in October of 2017, the Japanese education ministry launched helplines on social media targeting younger users who may appear to be complimenting suicide as well as having posts removed that promote suicide. This is the first time that suicide prevention in Japan has gone digital before it was mainly telephone helplines. This new initiative will also have online policing where they seek out posts that promote self-harm and possibly assisting self-harm to prevent any more killers like Shiraishi and Saito from stalking social media for victims.
If you or anyone else is thinking about suicide, there are people who will help; you can find them here at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.