Japan's Anti-Suicide Traditions
[ Nihon ni okeru jisatsu hiteiron ]
By William Wetherall
Essays on Japanology, 1978-1982
[Watashitachi no Nihongaku:
Gaikokujin ni yoru Nihongaku ronbun shu]
Compiled and translated by
International Cultural Association of Kyoto
[Kyoto Kokusai Bunka Kyokai]
Kyoto: Kyoto Kokusai Bunka Kyokai, 1983
pp. 105-123 (English), 125-142 (Japanese)
This essay placed first in the specialist division of the
Third Japanology Essay Contest
Sponsored in November 1980 by the
International Cultural Association of Kyoto
with the support of
The Japan Times and Matsushita Electric Industrial Company
A summary was read at a final screening
on 15 January 1981 at Kyodai Kaikan, Kyoto.
A slightly abridged version was published as
"Anti-Suicide Traditions in Japan: Past and Present" in
The Japan Times, 14 February 1981, pages 10-11
Culture and Behavior
Life and Death
Japan tends to be viewed as the Galapagos Islands of human civilization. Geographical remoteness and politically self-imposed isolation are supposed to have made everything in Japan, including suicide, exotically unique as a species of culture and behavior. According to prevailing stereotypes, Japanese don't kill themselves in the same ways or for the same reasons as other people, but are thought to have their own peculiar methods and motives.
Paul Varley, a pupil and colleague of the late Ivan Morris (1925-1976), has written of Morris that "he was determined even before he began research for The Nobility of Failure to show that the Japanese are somehow genetically programmed for a special kind of martyrdom." [n 1] Morris left us a brilliant account of tragic heroes in Japanese history, many of whom destroyed themselves. But the work shows little understanding of the social history of suicide in Europe. And its view of suicide in early Japan is limited to literary portrayals apparently selected and interpreted to support the popular preconception that Japanese embrace views of life and death that predispose them to suicide.
Stuart Picken, another scholar who has studied Japanese views of life and death, has written that "There is no natural inclination [in Japan] to regard suicide as something to be prevented," and he has doubted the efficacy of crisis-intervention techniques, such as telephone counseling, in preventing suicide in Japan. According to Picken, unlike most European countries, "Japan never had an anti-suicide tradition either in law or morals. [n 2]
The clinicians, theologians, and social workers who have led the suicide prevention movement in Japan, however, are inclined to feel that Japanese have traditionally been interested in suicide prevention. Inamura Hiroshi, for example, a social psychiatrist at Tsukuba University and one of the most active promoters of suicide prevention in Japan, has argued that there have been anti-suicide laws in all countries, and has shown that the social history of anti-suicide laws in Japan favorably compares with that of the European countries. [n 3]
My own research has found, in addition, that Japan's early suicide laws--while seemingly sparse in comparison with those in some Christian countries--were backed by moral concerns that further served to deter or prevent suicide. From this I have concluded that the advent in Japan of Euro-American approaches to suicide prevention has not been an inadept grafting of alien views of life and death on ostensibly incompatible Japanese views, but a rather successful adaptation of proven techniques, based on universal characteristics of suicide behavior, to a traditional Japanese interest in saving people from their self-destructive impulses.
Space permits but an overview of the more salient features of the pre-modern history of Japan's anti-suicide traditions. While the focus will be on religious and secular attitudes that have tended to restrain suicide in Japan, I will also discuss some of Japan's earlier anti-suicide laws, and will summarize the findings of research showing how European attitudes towards suicide have been much more lenient than is usually acknowledged in stereotypic comparative studies.
Culture and Behavior
Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927) wrote in reference to deities that "Of all the attributes of deities, the one that for their sake I most sympathize with is that they cannot commit suicide." [n 4] This seems to be an allusion to the words of the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79), who observed that "Even deities are not omnipotent, for even if they wanted to, they cannot commit suicide." [n 5] Pliny was influenced by the poet Ovid(43 BC-AD 17), who told the story of the Greek god Inachus who, suffering the loss of his daughter Io, lamented that "I cannot even end such grief by death. Being a god is terrible, for the gate of death is closed to me, and my sorrow is condemned to eternity." [n 6] But Ovid himself had merely expressed the view of the ancient Mediterranean world that deities, unlike humans, were unable to escape from their mundane emotions.
Not all deities, however, were protected from their impulsive desires to die by an innate and irrevocable immortality. In Japan, for example, the 8th-century Harima fudoki [Records of the geography and customs of Harima] preserves the story of the goddess Awami, who pursued her godmate Hanami to a certain pond and, mortified at not finding him there, "took a knife and cut open her belly, then fell into the pond." [n 7] The story was intended to explain why the place was called Harasakinuma [Belly-cutting-pond]. Suicide etymologies of place names are known in many folk traditions. The Aegean Sea, for example, is named after Aegeus, the King of Athens who plunged into its depths in belief that his son Theseus had been killed in battle with the Minotaur.
The Harima fudoki story is a classic case of jealous rage directed inward. It is tempting to associate Awami's self-disembowelment with the much later development of seppuku [cutting the belly] suicides, but there is no historical evidence that the two are related. No other stories of belly cutting are known in early Japanese literature, and the accounts of seppuku in the later war sagas are more reminiscent of the self-slaughter episodes found in early Chinese texts.
Many of the suicides recorded in the 8th-century Nihon shoki [Chronicles of Japan] were by cutting or stabbing. But none of these cases are described as disembowelments, and all involve men in social settings like lost political rivalries and military conflicts. The slightly earlier Kojiki [Record of ancient matters] reports comparatively few suicides. Most of the Kojiki cases are also found in the Nihon shoki, although some of the accounts greatly differ.
According to the Nihon shoki, for example, prince Mayowa killed the emperor Anko (r. 453-456) to avenge the death of his father, then took refuge in the residence of a vassal. The vassal offered to surrender himself to the new emperor in place of Mayowa and another prince, but the emperor wanted the princes and so attacked the residence. Both princes and the vassal were burned to death, and another vassal died in the flames when he took prince Mayowa's body in his arms.
The Kojiki, however, describes Mayowa's death as follows: [n 8]
[The prince's vassal turned to him and said]: "I am wounded everywhere, and the supply of arrows is exhausted. The flight cannot be continued any longer. What is to be done?"
The prince replied, saying: "In that case, there is nothing else to be done. Now, kill me!"
Thus, he stabbed the prince to death with a sword and cut his own throat and died.
Abimelech, in the Old Testament, had himself slain by his armorbearer when wounded in the head by a millstone thrown by a woman (Judges 9:54). The deaths of Saul and his armorbearer, however, are closer to the Kojiki story of the deaths of Mayowa and his vassal (I Samuel 31:3-5). The King James Version reads:
And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
The story of the death of Minamoto no Yorimasa (1105-1180) in the 13th-century Heike monogatari [Tale of the Heike] compares with both the Kojiki and Bible episodes. Yorimasa, over seventy, is wounded by an arrow in the knee. He orders a retainer to behead him, but the man tearfully replies that he could not think of doing such a thing, but would take Yorimasa's head only after he had destroyed himself. Thus Yorimasa faces west in the direction of the Amida paradise, invokes the name of Amida Buddha ten times, recites a poem lamenting the fact that his life will end fruitless, thrusts the point of his long sword into his belly, drives it through while falling prone, and passes away. The retainer then cuts off his lord's head, ties it to a rock, makes his way through the Taira lines to the Uji river, and sinks the head in deep water. Like Saul, Yorimasa had lost his sons and, outnumbered by an enemy determined to mutilate his body and make a trophy of his head, had no choice but to die without heirs and of his own hand. [n 9]
The portrayals of the deaths of Mayowa, Abimelech, Saul, and Yorimasa are somewhat different, but the underlying behaviors are similar if not identical. We cannot, of course, assume that these historical protagonists actually died in the manners described. The accounts of their deaths must be seen as literary representations of the cultural interpretations of their deaths, and we must take into account the cultural fact that the behavioral aspects of their deaths are probably distorted by literary embellishments.
Cultural distortions of our perceptions of behavior are also seen in the manner in which we tend to view the ways in which suicide is treated in newspapers, novels, movies, plays, paintings, and other cultural media, as tantamount to the ways in which the producers and consumers of culture actually behave. While the causal ties between culture and behavior are seldom clear, cultural views of a given behavior are certain to determine its social meanings.
Much has been said about the ways in which Japanese culture tends to romanticize suicide, for example, but the same may be said of European culture. Fred Cutter, among others, has extensively studied the history of suicide themes in European art. His conclusion is that the representations of suicide tend to glorify the act until about the 18th century, when intellectual criticism of self-destruction was strongest. Depictions of the suicides of Saul and his armorbearer in illustrated Bibles have rarely been morally neutral or emotionally mild. Despite the official position of the church against suicide, and the fact that the church was the patron of most pre-Renaissance art, figures like Saul were typically shown to be trapped in insoluble conflicts where suicide was the most honorable solution. European art has also glorified the deaths of married and unmarried women who killed themselves in defense of their sexual honor, and the suicides of lovers. [n 10]
Melvyn Faber, for one, has shown that popular sentiments towards the kinds of suicides dramatically represented on Elizabethan stages made suicide a very acceptable theme to contemporary audiences, again despite the formal sanctions against self-murder. He has also shown that the theme of love suicide can be traced through all major European literary traditions. [n 11] Robert Sewell, in a less detailed but more comparative study of the theme of suicide in Japanese and European literature, has noted a number of parallels at the behavioral or motivational level. [n 12]
Mori Ogai (1862-1922) pointed out that there were cases of love suicides in Europe, although he felt there were no equivalents in the European languages to the Japanese words joshi [love death] or shinju [emotional profession of love (especially through mutual death)]. He cited Swiss, Norwegian, German, and Italian writers whose works had described love suicides, and was one of the first to recognize what many observers still overlook: that the popularity of the theme of love suicides in a nation's culture is not necessarily an indication of the frequency of such suicides in the behavior of its people. [n 13]
The importance of distinguishing between behavior and culture is also seen in reference to the theme of women who commit suicide when courted by more than one lover, and in cases of parents who kill their children and then themselves. The 8th-century Man'yoshu [Collection of ten-thousand leaves], for example, preserves several poems about the suicide of a woman who has two or more suitors. The 10th-century Yamato monogatari [Tale of Yamato] contains a similar story. These earlier accounts are alluded to in the 11th-century Genji monogatari [Tale of Genji], which concludes with the story of Ukifune, who attempted suicide when unable to choose between the two men who competed for her attention. The theme is found in a number of later works and even modern films based on earlier stories. But despite the recurrence and popularity of this theme in Japanese culture, unilateral suicide by a woman with more than one lover is extremely rare in actual behavior. And contrary to what some scholars have held, the theme is not unique to Japan.
As for murder-suicide involving adult and younger members of the same family, Japanese police have been compiling detailed statistics on this kind of behavior for about half a century. While similarly detailed statistics are not available from Euro-American countries, there are many studies of such cases in Euro-American criminology and social psychiatry journals, not to mention newspaper reports. Moreover, using a variety of less-detailed statistics, some Japanese specialists on this subject have shown that such behavior is probably as frequent in Western Europe and North America as in Japan. [n 14]
Thus the absence of certain themes or categories in culture--including language, literature, mass media, and social statistics--does not preclude the existence and importance of behaviors that conform to these themes and categories. The problem is that our understanding of suicide, not only in Japan but in other Countries, tends to consist of stereotypes based on superficial views of the culture of the survivors, who are compelled to explain self-destructive behavior in ways that conform to their socially and religiously sanctioned views of life and death.
Religious suicides were proscribed in Japan early in the 8th century. An article in the Soniryo [Regulations for monks and nuns] section of the Taiho code provided that "Monks and nuns shall not abandon life by burning their bodies. Those in violation and those concerned will be punished according to the law." [n 15]
The Japanese proscription was based on contemporary T'ang dynasty laws, but the Tao seng ke [Regulations for Taoists and Buddhists] section of the T'ang code has been lost, so we cannot directly ascertain the extent that the Soniryo reflects adaptations of the imported laws to social conditions in Japan. References in the 9th-century Shoku Nihongi [Continued Chronicles of Japan] to self -mutilation among certain Buddhists do not help us solve this problem. We know from the Lotus Sutra and other early Buddhist texts, however, that burning the body as a sacrifice to Buddha was a theme in early Buddhism. Moreover, we know from the Vinaya-pitaka [Rules of discipline] in the Pali Tipitaka, and from its translated versions in the Chinese edition of the Buddhist canon, that instigating or encouraging suicide was strictly proscribed. it appears that Buddhist and secular laws sought to control self-mutilation and martyrdom in India, China, Korea, and Japan for the same reasons that such behaviors came to be regulated in Graeco-Roman, Judaeo-Christian, and Islamic and other cultures: self-destructive acts were thought to threaten social order by undermining religious and political authority.
Tradition has it that religiously motivated suicides were censured by Honen (1133-1212), the nominal founder of sectarian Jodo [Pure Land] Buddhism in Japan. The itinerant monk stressed that incantation of the name of Amida Buddha, and practicing various penances, were the main ways to gain passage to the Western Paradise of Perfect Bliss. As for one's present life, its hardships were to be endured. The believer was not to become depressed and seek premature release through suicide, whether by burning, drowning, fasting, or disembowelment. [n 16]
As seen in the Milindapanha [King Milanda's questions] and other classical Buddhist texts, Buddha's disciples debated both sides of the suicide issue. But they usually objected to willful self-destruction on the grounds that it constituted a selfish act, and so generally advocated the endurance of life to its natural end.
Most often overlooked in studies of the social history of suicide in Japan, however, is the power of the moral tenets of Buddhistic and Confucian thought to intervene in the suicidal ideation of a distressed individual and deter or prevent suicide. The 13th-century Heike monogatari, for example, contains a famous anecdote about a mother who talked her two daughters out of suicide because it was believed a sin to kill one's parents. The implication is clear that were the daughters to kill themselves the mother would have to join them in death, which would make them guilty of matricide. Their dilemma was resolved when all three women became nuns-the mother following her daughters.
Early Japanese literature suggests that religion played a key role in helping people overcome their suicidal crises. Fate usually brought the distressed individual to a fork in the road, one leading to death, the other to life as a nun or monk. The distressed person usually chose to take lay vows and seek salvation in a spiritual world that protected the sensitive soul from the vicissitudes of secular life. This is particularly true of the heroines of the Heian court diaries and the Kamakura military epics, but also of not a few courtiers and warriors.
The quintessential example of this kind of "conversion experience" is found in the already-mentioned Genji monogatari story of Ukifune. Allowing for its Heian-period setting, the story could pass for the clinical protocol of a suicide attempter in present-day society.
The French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) introduced an evolutionary paradigm of suicide behavior based on impressions of suicide in culture, particularly literature. Many present-day social scientists continue to assume that literary portrayals of suicide can be taken at face value, and continue to believe that suicide in early societies was more altruistic and social while suicide in the modern world tends to be egoistic and personal.
But most descriptions of suicide in early literature were limited by conventions of thought and style that reduced suicide to a simple behavior, and imputed to most self-destructive acts motives compatible with stereotyped views of life and death. And a study of the history of suicide, like that of homicide and other emotionally complex behaviors, suggests that what has changed the most over the millennia is not so much the behavior itself as our views of the behavior and the ways we prefer to treat the behavior in culture.
The importance of the Genji monogatari account of Ukifune's suicide attempt is that it transcends the limitations of contemporary cultural cliches about suicide, and provides us with an omniscient behavioral view of the intrapsychic and interpersonal dramas that preceded and followed her attempt. Most striking about the Ukifune story is how she left a number of suicide notes in the form of poems. Poetic suicide notes are known in the real world, too. In China, for example, the long narrative poem "Li sao" [Sorrow of separation] in the Ch'u tz'u [Songs of Ch'u] is traditionally attributed to Ch'u Yuan [4th century BC], who is said to have written the poem just before he drowned himself. The last lines are interpreted as an announcement of his intention to die, but his death has been considered a remonstration aimed at his compatriots rather than merely an act of lonely despair. [n 17]
Ukifune's suicide attempt was more a gesture of personal hopelessness. It is a classic example of the kind of autoplastic or inwardly-directed aggression that has characterized most suicidal behavior since time immemorial. This is unequivocally clear from the tone of the poems she wrote in the hours before her attempt to drown herself in the Uji river. The most revealing poem is the last one she sent to prince Niou, the most persistent of her two courtiers and the immediate cause of her agony: [n 18]
Kara o dani If I leave not ukiyo no naka ni even my body todomezu ba in this wretched world, izuko o haka to what as a target kimi mo uramin will you reproach?
While wishing that she could die, Ukifune recalled that it was thought deeply sinful for people to leave their parents behind in the world. She was greatly concerned about her mother, but their relationship was not as close as that between the mother and daughters in the Heike monogatari story, and did not long delay her plans to kill herself. The effect of her last poems on those who were closest to her was to burden them with guilt about their failure to heed her many cries for help. Her casually uttered wishes that she could die were taken seriously only in hindsight, when she was found missing and it became known-from the poems she had purposely left to be discovered--that she had flung herself into the river in the hope that her body would be swept out to sea and never recovered.
Just as usually happens today, the classic presymptoms of suicide were ignored until it was too late, when their recollection had the predictable effect of depressing close survivors and making them want to follow suit. As it turned out, Ukifune's semi-conscious body was pulled from the rapids and she was nursed back to physical health. Mentally, though, she could not bear to face more misery in the secular world and risk another suicide crisis. Thus one of the world's first, and longest, and finest novels ends with its last heroine cutting her hair and becoming a nun.
Life and Death
Japan is commonly stereotyped as a "land of suicide" because it appears that Japanese value death more than life, while the opposite is said of Europe. But a closer examination of the cultural data suggests that the deeper layers of Japanese culture romanticize suicide much less than its veneer, while the overt condemnations of suicide in Europe are complemented by a covert tolerance and even admiration of suicide. The result in both Japan and Europe is a complex attitude towards self-destruction that is not merely a double standard or contradiction, but a true emotional ambivalence of the kind that permitted Saint Augustine (354-430) to simultaneously deny and acknowledge the suicidal virtues of women like Lucretia, and which allowed Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) to criticize suicidal authors one day in his life yet kill himself on another.
Japanese and European attitudes towards life and death are equally ambivalent. Stereotypes be what they may, the most prevalent Japanese attitude towards death is the universal view that one should accept death as inevitable but not hasten it. Few things have been more important to Japanese people than life, and the things that sometimes seem to matter more-such as honor-are highly regarded as suicide motives in other countries also.
The relationship between the 18th-century bushido bible Hagakure [Hidden behind leaves-i and Japanese views of life and death tends to be greatly exaggerated by commentators who sensationally interpret and stop at the stoic first lines, which seem to encourage the reader to choose death over life if forced to make a choice. A more extensive and critical reading of this infamous work, however, suggests that life is preferable to death so long as there is reason to think that life would be more meaningful. But this is precisely what suicide has always been about, in all cultural settings: the meaning of life versus the meaning of death. And the main rationale for suicide prevention is that people who believe they wish to die, while ambivalent about life and death and inclined to think that death would be more meaningful, would probably rather continue to live if those around them gave them reason to reconsider the meaning of life.
Some of the most conservative Japanese intellectuals of, the Tokugawa period, including the great scholar of Japanese studies Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), felt that suicide for motives like atoning for a trivial offense was a waste of life and an unnecessary cause of sorrow. [n 19] Motoori and other Japanese who argued against the propriety of the most common suicide motives shared a tradition of thinking that extended back to the Nara period, when edicts like those much earlier in Rome and China, and about the same time in Korea, forbade people to sacrifice themselves or others at the graves of their leaders. We have also seen that suicide by monks and nuns was prohibited in early Japanese laws. Funerary suicides, commonly called junshi [following someone in death], were again proscribed in the 17th century, while 18th-century laws provided that commoners who survived love-suicide attempts become hinin [non-human] outcastes and banned plays and novels that featured joshi and shinju.
Suicide rates in Japan during the postwar years have averaged the same or less than those before the Pacific War, but the population has doubled while the annual number of deaths from all causes has fallen by half. Against this four-fold reduction in general mortality, suicide and other non-medical causes of death have come to be more conspicuous. Despite the fact that the 1970 suicide rate corrected for Population was nearly fifty percent lower than the 1920 rate, suicide accounted for twice the percentage of deaths in 1970 as in 1920.
The growing interest in suicide prevention in Japan and other countries is mainly a response to an increasing presence of suicide in our lives as medical causes of death become less prominent. Ironically, the problem of extending human longevity has become one of whether the potential for physiological life is beginning to exceed the limits of meaningful cultural and social life. Yet the euthanasia and right-to-die issues have generally been restricted to cases of terminal illness, while most people continue to believe that we should encourage one another to live out our natural lives and, if possible, save each other from our momentary desires to die prematurely.
While the ideals of suicide prevention are socially better organized today than in the past, they are part of the cultural history of every country, including Japan. Much of the improvement in the organization of suicide prevention activities is attributable to an increase in the objectivity of suicide research by social scientists, humanists, and mental health specialists. While cultural contributions to suicide cannot be ignored, understanding the behavioral universals that make all cultures human has come to be more important.
The Japan Association for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention (JASP) was established in 1978 on the occasion of the International Symposium on Suicide Prevention, in Tokyo, on suicide and thanatology in Asia. In close cooperation with the Federation of Inochi-no-Denwa (FIND) [Life Line], and other crisis-intervention services throughout Japan, JASP members have been instrumental in helping government, police, teacher, parent, and other groups improve their suicide prevention programs at the national, prefectural, and local levels. But the advent of these activities in Japan should be seen as simply the most recent development in a long history of suicide prevention that goes back to the earliest periods of Japanese society.
Kato Masaaki, director until 1983 of Japan's National Institute of Mental Health, and a founder and the president of JASP, has pointed out in one of the best summaries available of the intellectual history of ambivalence in European thought about suicide that, while historical studies of religious, legal, and philosophical attitudes towards suicide may help us understand the dynamics of suicidal behaviors in their cultural contexts, whether in balance these attitudes glorify or condemn suicide is probably not a decisive factor in suicide motivation. For suicide is almost always an emotionally disturbed act that occurs despite what people in more rational states of mind may think about it. Thus the primary aim of suicide prevention is to improve out ability to recognize when someone around us is despondent or distressed and seeks reaffirmation of the self-esteem, and the faith and trust in other people, that all of us need to sustain our interest in life. [n 20]
- Paul Varley, "A Remembrance of Ivan Morris," The Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter 1977), pages 135-143. See also Ivan Morris, The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.
- Stuart Picken, "Must Look at Suicide in Context of Culture: With No Anti-Suicide Tradition, Japan's Case Can't Be Approached With Western Methods of Analysis," The Japan Times, 3 December 1978. See also Stuart Picken, Nihonjin no jisatsu: Seiyo to no hikaku [Suicide among Japanese: A comparison with Western Europe], Tokyo: Saimaru Shuppan Kai, 1979 (translated by Hori Taoko from an apparently unpublished English manuscript).
- Inamura Hiroshi, Jisatsugaku: Sono chiryo to yobo no tame ni [Suicidology: For the treatment and prevention of suicide], Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppan Kai, 1977. Translation by William Wetherall in Progress (tentative title: Suicidology: A Comparative Introduction with a Focus on Japan).
- Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Shuju no kotoba [Words of a dwarfs], 1923-1925, 1927. Translated from Shinchosha edition, 1968, page 37.
- Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia [Natural History]. Retranslated from bilingual Loeb Classical Library edition, revised 1949, Vol. 1, pages 184-187.
- Ovid, Metamorphoseon (Metamorphoses]. Retranslated from bilingual Loeb Classical Library edition, second edition 1921, Vol. 1, pages 48-49, and Penguin edition, 1955,p. 46.
- Harima fudoki. Translated from Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei edition, 1958, pages 346-347.
- Donald Philippi (translator), Kojiki, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968, page 346.
- For a convenient but not entirely reliable English translation of Heike monogatari, see Hiroshi Kitagawa and Bruce Tsuchida (translators), The Tale of the Heike, Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1975.
- Fred Cutter, "Suicidal Themes in Visual Art," Omega, Vol. 3 No. 1 (February 1972), pages 1-32. See also Fred Cutter, Norman Farberow, and Dorothy Cutter, "Suicide in Art," in Norman Farberow (editor), Proceedings of Fourth International Conference for Suicide Prevention, Los Angeles: Suicide Prevention center, 1968, pages 208-215.
- Melvyn Faber, Suicide in Shakespeare. PhD dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles, 1964.
- Robert Sewell, The Theme of Suicide: A Study of Human Values in Japanese and Western Literature. PhD dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1976.
- Mori Rintaro [Ogai], "Joshi" [Love deaths], Myojo, No. 10 (1903), as quoted in Inamura 1977 (Note 3), page 156.
- See Inamura 1977 (Note 3), and Inamura Hiroshi, Kogoroshi: Sono seishin byori [Filicide and its psychopathology], Tokyo: Seishin Shobo, 1978.
- Kubomi Masayasu, Taihoryo shinkai [Taiho codes newly interpreted], Tokyo: Meguro Jinshichi, Vol. 1 (1916), page 195.
- Shunsho (1255-1335), Honen Shonin gyojo ezu [Portraits of events in the life of Saint Honen], in Kuroda Shindo and Mochizuki Shinkyo, Honen, Shonin zensho, Kyoto: Shusuisha, 1908, page 163.
- James Hightower, "Ch'u Yuan Studies," in Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyujo, Silver Jubilee Volume of the Zinbun-Kagaku Kenkyusho, Kyoto: Kyoto University, 1954, pages 192-223.
- Murasaki Shikibu, Genji monogatari, Translated from Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei edition, Vol. 5 (1963), page 272. See also translations by Arthur Waley (1889-1966) and Edward Seidensticker.
- Motoori Norinaga, Hihon tamakushige [Secret book of the jeweled comb box], in Okubo Tadashi (editor), Motoori Norinaga zenshu,Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, Vol. 8 (1972), pages 357-358. See also Shigeru Matsumoto, Motoori Norinaga, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970, pages 153-154.
- Kato Masaaki, "Seio no jisatsu shiso no keifu" [The genealogy of suicide thought in Western Europe], The English Journal, Vol. 8, No. 11 (September 1978), pages 49-53.