Six young Japanese were found dead from asphyxiation in a car Friday, charcoal stoves still smoking beside them — apparently the latest victims of a surge in suicide pacts arranged over the internet.Authorities said they suspected the five men and a woman, all in their 20s, met online before dying together Thursday night in a forested area 50 miles northwest of Tokyo. The car’s windows had been sealed with tape.
Internet suicide pacts have occurred since at least the late 1990s and have been reported everywhere from Guam to the Netherlands. But in Japan, where the suicide rate is among the industrialized world’s highest, officials are worried about a recent spate of such deaths.
A record 91 people died in 34 internet-linked suicide cases in Japan in 2005, up from 55 people in 19 cases in 2004, the National Police Agency reported last month. The number of internet suicide pacts has almost tripled from 2003, when the agency began keeping records.
Earlier this week, a man and two women in their 20s and 30s were found dead in Aomori, 360 miles northeast of Tokyo. The three also died by inhaling charcoal fumes in a car, and police suspected suicide.