Chapter 4 – Suzuki Yoshiyuki [14 years old]
March 19th (Thursday)
I gave 80,000 yen to ___-senpai after being threatened by him.
I can’t pay the remaining 40,000 yen he’s asked of me.
If I have to be beaten up by him, I’d rather die.
I gave all the money I got from dad and mom to ____ -senpai, and I can’t pay anymore.
I’ll return the money I got from mom for club activities.
____-senpai made me write that bill.
I’m going to die.
[Note: The “____” indicated the actual names of those referred to]
[ The Day of the Suicide ]
=In the darkness of the garage=
“It’s so dark…”
Among the things that humans are afraid of such as enclosed spaces and heights, it is something that humans fear above all. Until recent times with electricity coming into general use, exterminating darkness was the focused topic of society for many years.
This was something that happened on March 18th, 1998. On this day, Yoshiyuki-kun, who had as of late begun to stop going to morning practice sessions for his baseball sports club and to be late for class often, made no move to leave the house although it was well past time for him to head for school. His father, because of work, had left the house early, and his mother had also left by 9 o’clock to help his father.
“What time are you going to school?”
“I’ll go around 10. I’ll go after second block.”
Yoshiyuki-kun replied in a tired voice from inside the kotatsu in the living room. Because this was something that happened often, his mother did not think of this as raising a particular note of concern. His grandmother was also at home, and she saw him go out the front door in his school uniform, but his trail after that is a mystery.
One thing that is clear though, is that before Yoshiyuki-kun had shut himself in the storage, he left behind a suicide letter.
The Suzuki house had a storage workshop, so it must have been no hard feat to find rope. Yoshiyuki-kun placed his suicide letter and 10,000 yen on top of the desk found in the storage. This money was something that he had received from his parents as a reserve fund for his club activities. He tied the rope to a corner beam and passed it through the middle beam.
How long had he shut himself up inside the storage? Even now, this remains a mystery.
However, what is known is that his grandmother had headed to the storage to get a tool to fix the boiler at around dusk. The night before, it just so happens that because of the strong winds, the shutters had been pulled down, and his grandmother pulled up the shutters only enough to spot the tool that was nearby, and retreated back to the house. If one thinks how Yoshiyuki-kun was not spotted around the neighbourhood that day, it may have been that by this time, he was already in the storage.
If they had not experienced strong winds the previous night, the shutters may not have been pulled down. Then, when his grandmother had come to look for the tool, she might have discovered Yoshiyuki-kun. However, a series of coincidences led to the carrying out of the suicide.
On the 19th, his father had had a general meeting to attend for work in Ichikawa, Chiba, and so he had not returned home.
His mother, who had been at home, had thought that Yoshiyuki-kun was staying over at a friend’s house like he usually did, and so she did not worry about his absence. However, what remains deeply etched in his mother’s memory to this day was how many crows had gathered around the house and had been crowing noisily.
On the morning of the 20th, his father, who had gone into the storage to look for a tool before leaving for work, was the one to discover the hardly recognizable body of Yoshiyuki-kun.
Although he called 911 right away, it became clear that quite some time had already passed since he had become cold. The autopsy report revealed that the estimated time of death was just after midnight, on the 20th of March.
There were two letters that were left behind: one was addressed to his parents, and another was addressed to a classmate of his who was on the same baseball team as him. In the suicide letter, he had given names, and he had also written of how he was being threatened out of money.
Yoshiyuki-kun’s suicide, the things that he had written in his suicide–his parents had a few guesses about the bullying. However, he had never reached out to them, and no matter how many times they had asked “Are you all right?” he had only ever replied: “It’s nothing. I’m okay.” They had no idea that it had reached such a serious stage. It was the case though that about a month before his death, the Suzuki household had been receiving an unusual amount of silent calls and phone calls from people they had never heard of before.
The entire family could not believe that Yoshiyuki-kun had taken his own life. The baseball tournament that he had so been looking forward to was the very next day. The baseball team of Tooyama Junior High, the school Yoshiyuki-kun had been attending, was a mammoth sports team in the region, and they had often advanced to the prefectural tournament after winning the regional preliminaries. There was a policy that it was only in grade 9 that team members would first be able to play in an official game, and two days earlier, an intrasquad game was held to determine who would become regulars.
Yoshiyuki-kun replied to his mother, who had asked how the game went:
“It ended 2 -1 in my favour. I played a pretty good game today, so I think I might even be able to become a 4th batter.”
She had even joked to Yoshiyuki-kun, who had told her this with a big smile on his face: “There’s no way you can become a 4th batter” — so why did he do it?
There were other things he was looking forward to as well. Yoshiyuki-kun had two older sisters, and his eldest sister, who was living and working in Tokyo at that time, was planning on coming back on the eighteenth, and he was very much looking forward to her coming back. He had also asked his sister if she could buy him a wallet in Tokyo because his was falling apart. It was already past ten when his sister came home, but even then, he waited up for her.
“Sis, did you remember to buy me a wallet?”
“Oh, sorry, I forgot. My next holiday is on the 23rd, so I’ll definitely remember to buy it then.”
“That’s a promise!”
He made sure that she would keep her promise. The question then becomes, would someone who as planning on dying say something like this?
Many things that he was looking forward to were within his reach. The thing that stole the future of the youth who had so many good things waiting for him—
That thing was “bullying.”
There were things that hinted at the bullying that was happening.
Money had been disappearing from his mother’s wallet time and time again. His mother, who had become suspicious, pressed for answers from Yoshiyuki-kun, who was in his room playing a video game.
“Yoshiyuki, did you take money from my wallet?”
“Yeah. I used the money to buy this game.”
She wasn’t sure if that video game was one that he had had from before. Well, a game for the Super Famicom system probably does cost around 10,000 yen. She was satisfied with reply, and she did not press him any further.
There were also changes to Yoshiyuki-kun’s school uniform when he came home from school. It was frequently dirty.
When she asked “What happened?” he would reply: “I fell off my bicycle.”
No matter how many times she asked, he only ever said that he fell off his bicycle.
At home, many strange phone calls were being made to Yoshiyuki-kun. One day, Yoshiyuki-kun told his parents, who thought this unusual, to not pass the call onto him anymore during such a call, so after that, they hung up after telling the person that he “wasn’t home.”
However, before long, the phone calls were being made by someone who claimed to be on the same baseball team as Yoshiyuki-kun. And when the call was passed to this so-called team member, they were heard by Yoshiyuki-kun’s second oldest sister discussing money issues rather than anything to do with baseball.
“Yoshiyuki, is someone trying to extort money from you?”
In response to his sister, who was pressing for answers, Yoshiyuki-kun replied:
“It’s okay. It’s nothing.”
His sister regrets to this very day that she didn’t press the issue further.
After his suicide, his father looked inside Yoshiyuki-kun’s piggy bank, and he found that it was completely empty. He gave all the money he had, and because it was still not enough, he must have started to dip into his parent’s funds.
Why couldn’t he open up about the bullying to someone? Why didn’t the school do anything to resolve this? There was a reason for this.
[ A Life Cut Short ]
=Bring as much money as you can!=
On July 21st, 1983, Yoshiyuki-kun came into this world. He was the third child of the Suzuki family, and he was their first son. Is it too out-dated of a term to refer to him as the family’s “son and heir”? He bore the hopes of the family on his shoulders, and he was named “Yoshiyuki” after taking one kanji character from his father’s name, Zenji.
It may be that he took after his father, but since he was a child, he had a big body, and there were times when he would protect a classmate who was being bullied.
“For his size, he was pretty timid. He had a personality that made it hard for him to say no when he was asked something of him.”
There were many times he helped out with work after school or during breaks because his parents asked him to.
Since back in elementary school, he belonged to the local boys’ baseball team, and he was working hard. Yoshiyuki-kun, who was slightly overweight, wasn’t very good when it came to running, but he had a knack for batting. Because the youth baseball team that he had belonged to became the baseball team for Tooyama Junior High, Yoshiyuki-kun was also a part of the baseball club during junior high.
As he grew, his slightly overweight body balanced out well to his height, and his position in the baseball team was mainly as a right fielder or catcher. Although he didn’t really have one favourite professional baseball team, if it had to be one or another, he was a fan of the Giants.
Although he was 170 centimetres tall, it may have been because of his timid nature, but he rarely ever fought with his two older sisters. They were siblings that got along very well. It may also have been because their ages were so far apart.
They often played video games like “Mario Kart” and “The Game of Life DX” together. Although due to their age differences, they never attended the same school at the same time, Yoshiyuki-kun was someone who was always surrounded by friends, and who loved manga. This was how his sisters saw him in their eyes.
“It may be because his grades weren’t that good, but he seemed to be thinking about not advancing to high school and just going straight into the work force.”
It seemed also the case that he was considering getting a motorcycle license and working at the fish market run by a friend of his father’s or succeeding his father’s construction company.
Even in the baseball club, he seemed to be doing well, so what circumstances drove a popular boy like Yoshiyuki-kun to suicide?
“Because his youth baseball team moved directly from elementary school to junior high, there was quite a bit of hierarchical links.”
His mother explained as she began to talk about her son’s bullying.
There was a boy named I-kun who was the captain of the baseball team who was a year above Yoshiyuki-kun when he began junior high. A year older than I-kun was A, who was mentioned in Yoshiyuki-kun’s suicide letter, and gradually I-kun became involved with bad company.
“I’m going to go spend the night at I-kun’s place.”
This was something that happened after he started grade 8. Because his parents knew I-kun, they were able to send him off with ease. However, he actually spent the night over at B’s house, who would later become one of the people who belonged to the group who bullied Yoshiyuki-kun. This was where he became acquainted with A, B and C. A, who was two years older than Yoshiyuki-kun and who had dropped out of high school. B and C, who were in the same grade as Yoshiyuki-kun. It was revealed later that this was when he was forced to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.
Yoshiyuki-kun, who became mixed up with a group of troublemakers, was treated like a lackey within the group. Yoshiyuki-kun, who had the lowest position in the group, was pushed around by A depending on his mood at that time. There was even a time when he was ordered to beat up a classmate of his.
“Senpai told me to beat you up, but I won’t, so could you pretend like you were?”
Although that classmate reported this incident to the teacher, nothing came about from it. On the contrary, A’s group found out that he hadn’t beaten up the classmate, and he almost had to face retaliation because of it.
His friends from the same class as him offered to protect Yoshiyuki-kun, who was being threatened with bodily harm, and they guarded him when it came time to change classrooms. However, as they were going up the stairs, Yoshiyuki-kun dropped his pencil case in the stair case landing, and in the space of the moment during which his friends had gone ahead of him, he was dragged away by the group of delinquents, and he was beaten up.
There were also times he was called out to the park and came home with a swollen face. When the parents had called to inform the school, they were given the reply:
“Tell that to the police.”
When they went to the police with the medical report in hand, their reaction was as such:
A, who had dropped out of an infamous rough high school, who was wandering about doing nothing, was even known by the Youth Division of the police force. Not only that, but A’s father was a police officer. Although his father had a post in Ichikawa, which was a bit far from Narita, he requested his post to be moved to Sakura, which was next to Narita, as a way of protesting A’s actions.
Yoshiyuki-kun’s parents thought that since they had gone so far as to report what had happened to the police, the bullying would stop, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
This was something that happened March 5th, 1998. A, B, and C were gambling money on a game of poker, and C lost 40,000 yen to A. C tried calling his mother and asking if she could somehow scrape the money together, but his mother unsurprisingly flat out refused saying “I can’t pay something like that.” That was when Yoshiyuki-kun was called out. It seems that after Yoshiyuki-kun had treated C to 500 yen worth of food at the convenience store, they had mistakingly started thinking that “if it’s Yoshiyuki, he’d probably be able to come up with the money.” That was how A and the others went to go and pick Yoshiyuki-kun up. A handed C a butterfly knife and told him:
“Threaten him using this to get him to pay up.”
C thrust the knife up to Yoshiyuki-kun’s face and threatened him. But as might be expected, Yoshiyuki-kun didn’t have that kind of large sum of money.
That was when A goaded C to fight with Yoshiyuki, and he forced a skirmish to occur. It ended at that for that day. C’s mother, who heard what had happened, contacted the school, and she was also told to call the police. Although C and his parents proceeded to go to the police station at dusk, the detectives from the youth division had already returned home. They were handled by the criminal affairs division instead, but it was said that they turned a deaf ear to the situation.
The next day, Yoshiyuki-kun was called out by a teacher at school, and he was apparently asked regarding the details of what had happened. If the teacher had talked with Yoshiyuki-kun’s parents on the phone then, they might have been able to avoid the worst case scenario. However, when the teachers had called Yoshiyuki-kun’s home, the line was busy and he could not get through, and it was apparently the case that he forgot to call them again. Yoshiyuki-kun was so scared of retaliation that he couldn’t open up to his parents or family members about what was happening. It may be that the smallest amount of courage could have been enough to change the eventual outcome.
The crime report that was filed was accepted by the police only a week after his death.
It was also confirmed later that around March 14th, Yoshiyuki-kun was once again threatened to bring money.
“Pay up by March 17th.”
And although he hadn’t even borrowed money from A, he was forced to write a bill of debt. At first, he had emptied out his savings to pay A, but when it became empty, he resorted to taking money from his mother’s wallet by lying and saying he used it to buy a video game. He had been giving A this money.
Before this incident occurred, he was receiving numerous silent phone calls and calls by people claiming fake names, so it may be that he was being extorted out of money since well before this incident.
In the suicide letter, he had written:
“I gave 80,000 yen to ___-senpai after being threatened by him. I can’t pay the remaining 40,000 yen he’s asked of me.”
This indicated an amount larger than the amount C lost in the game of poker.
Because Yoshiyuki-kun had stopped accepting calls from those claiming fake names or the names of members of the same baseball team as him, A even used his girlfriend to call Yoshiyuki-kun out.
His mother was suspicious of this girl who said her name was “Tooyama,” and upon inquiring at the school, she received a response that there was no one who went by that name who was attending that school.
Not only that, but on the 19th, the day before Yoshiyuki-kun’s suicide during which he had shut himself up in the storage and was no where to be found, A had called his house.
“Is Yoshiyuki-kun there?”
Yoshiyuki-kun’s mother, who had thought that her son was over at A’s house, thought that A was lying, and hung up after saying:
“What are you saying? He’s over at your house, isn’t he?”
It was also discovered that A had been threatening Yoshiyuki-kun as such:
“If you die, you won’t be able to pay up, you know that?! Do you wanna die, is that it?!”
“Steal all that you can from your parents and bring as much money as you can!”
“If you can’t pay up, I’ll beat you up and break your ribs!”
And Yoshiyuki-kun, who was driven into the corner, chose the path of suicide, despite the fact that the game in which he could become a regular for the first time was not far away, and his sister was going to buy him the wallet that he had asked her to buy for him.
There were many things that he had to look forward to, but there was something else happening that he could no longer bear that overrode all of that.
It was also the reality of the situation that the school and his classmates were not able to help him because they were not aware of what was happening. His problem was one that didn’t not stand out in particular, and from an outside observer, he was thought to be part of A’s group. It wasn’t strange that they misunderstood him as being part of the group of troublemakers. It may have been that if it were not for the money troubles and the existence of a distinctive hierarchical relationship, he may have been able to be friends with that group.
However, the general student population who feared the group did not realize that. And because they did not realize this, it may have led Yoshiyuki-kun to suicide.
In a bullying-related suicide like this, because the perpetrator did not directly have a hand in his suicide but rather, only created a reason for him to commit such an act, it is extremely difficult to establish that a crime has occurred. In the case that the perpetrators denied any wrong doing, it is difficult to pursue a case against them unless there is substantial evidence. As a result, it is often the case that the school and the administration that is responsible for overseeing the school are taken to court as a way to have them assume supervisory responsibility.
However, in Yoshiyuki-kun’s case, not only did he mention the names of those who were bullying him in his suicide letter, but there were also medical reports written by doctors of the injuries that he had incurred, and because they had also gone to seek help from the police a number of times, there was plenty of evidence left to seek prosecution. Because of this, the judicial decision was reached at a much faster rate than usual.
March 25th, five days after Yoshiyuki-kun’s death. First off, A was arrested on the charge of injurious assault and attempted extortion. At the time of his arrest, he was seventeen years old.
In addition, B, whose room was the setting for the majority of the bullying, was also interviewed. Because his father rarely came home due to him having started a relationship with a woman, there was no one to discipline B. As a result, B’s room became a frequent hangout for the group.
On April 14th, the Chiba district public prosecutor’s office sent A to the Chiba family court with charges of attempted extortion and injurious assault. The same court sent B and C home after charging them with attempted extortion. In addition, A, who had been arrested on the same day and who had been in custody of the police, was transferred to the Chiba Juvenile Corrective Institution.
And on May 8th, A was sentenced at the Chiba family court. His behaviour was found to have been of a “heinous and persistent nature,” and a decision was reached to send A to an intermediate reformatory. B, whose home had become a hangout for the group, was sentenced to juvenile reformatory, and C, because he himself was being bullied by A, was sentenced to house-arrest.
In addition, although the verdicts reached in court for a bullying-related suicide like this is usually not made public, because this was reported in detail, we were able to mention this here.
A’s parents, went to visit the Suzuki family a month after Yoshiyuki-kun’s death. The reason they gave for taking so long was that they did not know where they lived. We wondered if that was true. Yoshiyuki-kun’s father, Zenji, did not allow them into their drawing room, but rather, received them at the entrance hall.
When he asked: “What are you going to do once A is released from intermediate reformatory?” A’s parents replied:
“We will entrust him to someone.”
Despite the fact that A was able to become the delinquent that he was partly due to the parent’s poor supervision, they were saying that they were going to relinquish their responsibility. This made the Suzuki family furious. They did not know how long the silence lasted, but at last A’s father opened his mouth to say that he would care for his son even if it meant having to leave the police force.
Yoshiyuki-kun’s parents later heard from a Tokyo newspaper journalist with whom they were well acquainted that A’s mother had tried to kill herself after this incident.
She took a rope out of the house with her, and tried to hang herself in the neighbouring park. Her child, who had noticed that his mother was acting strangely, trailed after her, and stopped her from killing herself.
The verdict was reached for them at the criminal court. But a civil damages suit was not been filed. In most cases, even if the trial lasts over ten years, it is often the case that at best, the result is 500,000 yen (approx $5000) in compensation. Compared to a murder, in which the perpetrator had a direct involvement in the outcome, it is a pitiful amount. However, this is the present state of things in the Japanese law system.
It was likely the case that they did not want to file a civil damages suit because they did not want to measure in dollars when it came to the worth of Yoshiyuki-kun’s life.
We wondered if Yoshiyuki-kun in heaven was satisfied and happy with the outcome.
[ The Day of the Interview ]
= We don’t like dragging up the past =
We switched to the East Higashi expressway from the city highway, and we drove approximately an hour. In the night sky, we could see the light of the airplanes leaving the airport. We slowly decreased speed, and we got off the Narita interchange. The gateway of the Japan sky: Narita airport. The residential area that spread out nearby this airport was where Suzuki-san’s house was located.
We got lost, and for a while, we went back and forth around the quiet residential area. When we arrived at Suzuki-san’s house at long last, the clock was already striking eight at night.
We were brought to the living room, and we got right down to the interview.
The bullying that Yoshiyuki-kun had experienced time and time again was different from insidious bullying. It was a special kind of violence-based bullying that was limited to a rough school like the one that he had been attending. Although he wanted to tell someone, he feared retaliation, and he could not open up to anyone about what was happening.
Pain, fear, and a feeling of despair of thinking that nothing would change even if he were to tell someone. He had chosen the path of death as a way to escape from all this. Although we could not support such a decision, we could understand how he felt.
When a child enters junior high, he or she spends over half of their day at school. The centre of their world switches from their home to school. Of course, their mind also opens up to the world around them besides their school, but it is difficult to hold a wide field of vision.
Once he or she enters high school and begins working part time, this world view that they hold collapses. However, it is not so during junior high. We wondered if we would have been able to stand up against the bullying if we were in his position. Would we have been able to have such courage? As we listened to their story, we wondered this.
In response to our questions, his parents spoke very little. Even when we attempted to ask for specific details of the situation at that time, there were many times that they had a fuzzy recollection of what had happened. Before long, they handed us an article that reported Yoshiyuki-kun’s death saying that for more information, we should read this.
It is probably the case that the father was not a good talker by nature. So it may just be that he thought that it would be easier for us if we read the article rather than hearing the story from him. However, at the same time, by saying so little, it was as if he was rejecting talking to us in general.
What surprised us even more though, was the fact that the room that Yoshiyuki-kun had been using no longer existed. In addition, they had thrown out over half of his things. We found it a bit hard to swallow that they could throw away things that held so many memories of their son. These items are things that the remaining family members of the deceased should keep close to their hearts. That’s what we thought at first.
However, upon contemplating the issue a bit further, there are many ways that people express pain. If there are people who cry out loud, on the flip side, there are those who act more cheerful than usual, and attempt to maintain a air of composure. The members of the Suzuki family were attempting to carry on living by placing as much distance between them and the painful memories as possible.
Even after their feelings were allowed to settle a bit, if they saw an item of Yoshiyuki-kun’s, they may once again feel the pain of losing him. In fact, his older sister said to us: “I don’t like dragging up the past like this.” They were trying their best to get back on their feet, so they wanted to be left alone. This may perhaps be what they were feeling.
There is no family that does not grieve the death of a family member. As proof of that, the letter we received from his older sister at a later date etched the deep pain that she felt that went beyond words.
[ Thereafter ]
= Someone comes to visit his grave every year =
November 2003. Almost four years had passed since we paid a visit to Suzuki-san’s house. The town which had seemed so quiet had completely changed. As we drew in the memory line, we eventually found their house. Without delay we knocked on the door, and as it turned out, it had been just a short time ago that the parents had returned from work.
“If Yoshiyuki was still alive, he would have been twenty this year.”
As we talked about the interview that had been conducted four years earlier, it may have perhaps been that the father realized the passage of time, but he shared with us that whenever he ran into former classmates of Yoshiyuki’s in the neighbourhood, he couldn’t help but envision how his son would have grown like them if he were still alive. The Yoshiyuki-kun in his memories though, forever remains that of his fourteen year old self.
His father has continued to run his construction firm. He told us that he continues to work at the construction sites accompanied by his wife. It is a gruelling job which depends heavily on one’s physical strength. However, he explained to us that he didn’t plan on quitting his work until he could no longer move his body. The reason why being that this family business was one that Yoshiyuki-kun had previously been looking forward to taking over.
If he had been alive, he would have been of an age when it would not have been surprising for him to be working alongside his father. On reflecting on it, the storage in which Yoshiyuki-kun had hanged himself was where his father had worked everyday. By continuing to work, this may perhaps be his way of communicating with Yoshiyuki-kun.
The town in which Suzuki-san’s family lives is a small countryside town. Are there times when they run into the perpetrators of the bullying?
“After what happened, they all left town. That wasn’t a surprise to us. We didn’t want to see their faces either.”
The youths responsible for the bullying along with their families had left town soon after the incident.
The parents said there was one thing that they were curious about. That was that every year after Yoshiyuki-kun’s suicide, on the anniversary of his death, they find flowers left at his grave. Someone leaves these flowers before the family comes to place their flowers on the grave.
It may just be that they were left by a perpetrator who regretted his violent behaviour. Or perhaps it was a classmate of his that had looked the other way when he was being bullied. There is no way to know. What is clear though, is that there is someone besides them who is grieving over Yoshiyuki-kun’s death. As they told us of this personal episode, they appeared very happy.
They also added that the teacher who had been teaching Yoshiyuki-kun at the time of the death comes to offer incense every year. He still blamed himself for not being able to do anything for Yoshiyuki-kun.
Yoshiyuki-kun continues to live on in the hearts of many people, as long as there are those who remember and grieve his death.
[ A Response to the Suicide Letter from the Family ]
A Letter from the Older Sister:
First off, I found out about Yoshiyuki’s death approximately five hours after he had passed away (after my father had found out about his death). It was morning, and because I had finished with work, I was over at my friend’s house. Because I had forgotten my cell phone in the car, there was a delay in me being contacted; this is my biggest regret.
Yoshiyuki and I were very close, and he did things like make me dinner, and we watched TV and did celebrity impersonations together. Yoshiyuki had a sunny disposition, and he was never short of a smile.
When I found out about Yoshiyuki’s death and saw Yoshiyuki’s body which was hardly recognizable, I couldn’t even speak. I couldn’t shed tears either. It’s not that I was indifferent to what had happened. It was just that I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even move or think. After things had settled down a bit and I was able to think calmly about the situation, it truly hit me that Yoshiyuki was no longer on this earth, and the tears started flowing after all.
The other day, I forgot which TV channel it was, but a foreign celebrity was saying on one program: “If you’re being bullied– there’s no need to be embarrassed; it’s better if you tell your family or teacher.”
When I heard that, I thought in that moment:
“What is she talking about?! It’s not that they’re embarrassed– they’re afraid of the retaliation when the bullies find out they had told someone!”
It surprised me how she could say an insensitive thing like that.
Even in his suicide letter, he had written: “If I have to be beaten up…”
I thought “So even at your age, you don’t realize the gravity of words?!” No one likes having their bones broken or having cigarettes forced onto them. I’m sure he wouldn’t have committed suicide if they had only been taking money from him. He feared retaliation, and that was why he couldn’t say anything.
When I think back to that period right after his death, I was really happy that the people at my workplace didn’t treat me any different from usual. If they did stuff like offer sympathy and forcefully put up an overly cheerful front, it would have made me even sadder…
Now, my co-workers bring up Yoshiyuki in conversations from time to time, but I feel proud of Yoshiyuki. If you ask me why, it’s because they tell me often:
“Yoshiyuki-kun’s strong! I know it’s not good to say something like this, but others that were being bullied by those same people probably felt relief from his death. Because of what he did, many of his friends were saved. You should be proud of him.”
I felt really happy to hear them say that. Hearing them say that didn’t give me a bad feeling. Of course, I’m sad that he’s no longer on this Earth. But I think he’s happier being up in Heaven with his grandpa and friends (my friend too! He died in a car accident, and he used to talk with Yoshiyuki often). I’m sure he’s probably made many new friends in Heaven too.
I feel at peace when I think how he’s probably off playing baseball with everyone including my teacher from back in junior high. I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that he’s happy there. And when I think of how he’s cheering us family on from up in Heaven, I feel really happy.
I think that my brother, who took his own life, is a strong person.
And like I’ve said before, I’m proud of him. I want to praise my younger brother, who I loved and cared for so much. I want to tell him thank you…for leaving the suicide letter.
From the time of Yoshiyuki’s death until now, what has been my biggest sources of strength have been my family and my co-workers (that’s why I can’t quit the company, because I don’t want to lose the friends I’ve made there….). I care for everyone so so much.
And lastly, what I would like to say to everyone is, you might think that you can’t understand the pain of losing someone from suicide just because you’ve never had someone close to you pass away in that manner, but I would like to ask you to imagine “What if…”. If someone from your family took his or her own life….if your own child took his or her life… Because it was the same for me. After Yoshiyuki’s death, there were many things I realized. Please don’t brush it off as somebody else’s problem.
Also, please don’t say things like “I want to die” or “I’m going to die” impulsively. People who use those kinds of words lightly won’t die… I have a couple of friends like that too, but I always get mad and slap them; that’s when they come to their senses. Even then though, I still care for these friends very much.
To Yoshiyuki, who is in Heaven:
“Are you happy right now?”
A Letter from the Father:
In your next life, no matter what, come back as a child who can open up to his parents about his problems, okay?
What are you doing in heaven right now?
Come back once or twice to tell me your stories of heaven, won’t you?
Let me see you in my dreams too.
Are you doing well? I pray that you are.
From your father.
TO BE CONTINUED…
[UP NEXT: pg 189-232 END]