Buddhism and Suicide: Voluntary Death and Its Philosophy

Kanae Kawamoto


Japan, one of the leading industrial countries, has had one of the world’s highest suicide rates for years. This paper in its present form is a shortened version for publication in Assumption University’s journal “Prajna Vihara”. Since the limitation of space to 20 pages prevented a more exhaustive treatment of each chapter, this abbreviated version partially summarises Chapter 3 of my master’s dissertation, Ambiguity of Karmic Fate and Voluntary Death: Suicide Cases in Theravada Buddhism and Japanese Society. This concise version thus analyses the statistics of suicides followed by references to the unique methods employed and phenomena related to suicide in modern Japanese society. In addition, it examines particular acts of voluntary death in Japan with reference to their cultural, religious, and philosophical aspects. Japan has some unique tendencies in regard to the prevalence of suicide and an ‘aesthetics’ or philosophy of death. Hopefully the findings in this paper can contribute practical guidelines which can be applied to the social problems surrounding suicide while promoting the right attitudes towards life not only in Japan, but in the whole world.

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ISSN (Print): 1513-6442
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