Reuters has a story on the growing trend in suicide pacts in Japan. On Thursday, February 17, another four people were found dead in Hokkaido. The MO follows the standard for group suicides in a car – sealed doors and the burning of charcoal stoves until the victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The victims were aged from 19 to their mid-30s.

According to the story, this brings the February total to 16, which, though tiny compared to total suicides (around 80-90 per day), hints at a growth in Internet-initiated suicide pacts in the country:

According to police, a record 34,427 Japanese took their own lives in 2003, more than a quarter of them because of debt or economic woes.

Of the total, only 34 died in Internet-linked group suicides. But the number rose to 54 in 2004 and police say the real number was probably even higher.

The story is definitely worth a read, wherever you can pick it up – Suicide pacts a grim and growing trend for Japan.

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