Suicide is a significant social issue in Japan, with a rate of 24 per 100,000 individuals in the year 2000. To address this problem, the government allocated an enormous 16.3 billion yen towards suicide prevention strategies in 2009, and their efforts have been fruitful over the years.
However, in 2017, a new problem emerged during the government's attempts to decrease the suicide rate.
One individual took advantage of the situation to fulfill his own twisted desires.
This individual would entice others into their home to watch them take their own lives, and if the victims hesitated, the perpetrator would take matters into his own hands. Shockingly, within a short span of two months, the killer managed to murder nine people, demonstrating their frightening effectiveness in luring their victims.
Takahiro Shiraishi, who was once a quiet and slender kid, grew up in Zama, Japan, with his parents and younger sister. During high school, he joined the baseball team as a freshman and later, the track team during his senior years. Although his academic performance was average, he was an attentive student who never missed a day of class.
Everything changed when his parents separated, and his mother and sister moved out, leaving Takahiro and his father. After graduating in 2009, Takahiro struggled to find a stable job and had to resort to odd jobs before becoming a scout in the Kabukicho district. His job was to entice young women to work in the clubs he worked for.
He was left broken by the challenges he faced, from his parents' divorce to his struggles in finding a stable job. But it was the moment when he received a suspended prison term for his work as a scout that really shattered him. He confided in his father that he couldn't find any purpose in his life.
Instead of giving in to suicidal thoughts, Takahiro found solace in Twitter. He created two accounts with the usernames "I Want to Die" and "A Professional at Hanging."
Through his first account, he presented himself as a dejected individual seeking someone to share his misery with.
"I want to forget everything," he wrote in one post. "I want to disappear." In his second account, he depicted himself as an expert in helping people cope with life. "I want to spread my knowledge in hanging," he said. "I really want to become the source of strength for everyone who's in pain. If you are at a dead end, please consult me," he wrote.
Takahiro was aware of his actions and they appealed to a particular group of individuals. With his method, he quickly amassed a following. His strategy involved searching for the hashtag "suicide recruiting," which led him to a pool of young women who were desperate to end their lives.
A neighbor who frequently worked with Takahiro's father at their workshop shared that one day, Takahiro decided to live independently and moved into an apartment that later became known as the "House of Horrors," located not far from his father's place. His father paid for the monthly rent, which amounted to 19,000 yen.
A clinical psychology professor from Kyoto University named Yasushi Sugihara discovered an unexpected pattern in Takahiro's technique of luring his victims. Sugihara's findings revealed that Takahiro's success in attracting his victims was due to his use of a counseling technique.
Takahiro used a technique commonly employed in counseling by disclosing his own personal information to narrow the distance between himself and his victims. To ensure that his victims did not back off, Yasushi analyzed over 200 conversations between Takahiro and his victims while also helping to increase their interest in death.
At the last minute, Takahiro would arrange to meet his victims at a train station close to their homes, before taking them to his apartment. There, he would weaken his victims with alcohol, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills before assaulting them.
"I had a hard time making up my mind to do it, but I had done illegal things on a daily basis as part of my work as a scout and had internalized the idea that it's only a problem if you get caught," Takahiro said.
"After the first murder, the rest were easy." He said.
While he did experience some guilt for some of his victims, but for the most part, he had no remorse.
Takahiro was only apprehended by the police after he had killed his ninth victim. It all started when the brother of a missing woman became worried about her sudden disappearance. Since there was no sign of his sister, he decided to hack into her Twitter account to try and find any clues about her whereabouts.
It was then that he stumbled upon a conversation she had had with Takahiro. When the police finally reached Takahiro's apartment, they immediately inquired about the missing woman. Takahiro confessed that she was with him, but that she was in the freezer. The police must have been taken aback by this revelation, especially considering that the victim had been missing for several weeks at this point. They were preparing for the worst possible outcome.
Upon entering Takahiro's apartment, they discovered three cooler boxes and five large storage crates. These containers were scattered throughout Takahiro's residence, with some stacked on top of one another. The odor emanating from them was incredibly overpowering, as neighbors had been complaining about the stench for weeks.
Inside the boxes, the remains of eight women and one man were discovered, all of whom had been dismembered. Takahiro was taken into custody on October 31st, 2017.
During the trial, things did not go as smoothly as expected, especially given the brutal nature of the murders. The issue of consent was brought into question by the defendant's lawyers, which complicated matters.
Takahiro's legal team argued that because the victims had given permission to be killed, he should receive a lesser sentence. According to them, Takahiro was more accurately guilty of "homicide with consent" and possibly suffered from mental instability.
The prosecution, however, sought the harshest sentence possible, given the severity of Takahiro's crimes. The prosecution presented evidence that contradicted the defense's argument.
Takahiro himself testified that the victims fought for their lives before they were killed, indicating that they could not have given their consent. To everyone's surprise, Takahiro supported the prosecution's case and admitted that only one victim had given their consent.
When it was time for te judge to deliver the verdict, she stated that none of the nine victims had consented to be killed, including silent consent. She described the crime as "cunning and cruel" and highlighted the fact that nine young lives were taken away.
The judge found the defendant fully responsible for his actions and called the trampling of the victims' dignity "extremely grave." Takahiro was sentenced to death on December 15, 2020, and he confirmed that he would not appeal the sentence.
Takahiro received the death penalty on December 15, 2020, and expressed no intention to challenge the decision. In Japan, the exact date of execution is kept secret from both the offender and their family until the day of the execution.
After the horrific discovery of Takahiro's killings, Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, instructed government officials to take more stringent action against inappropriate websites that promote suicide.
Suga called for the authorities to investigate the proliferation of such websites and collaborate with internet service providers and other relevant agencies. He urged them to take measures to delete or restrict harmful content and to provide counseling to young people who express suicidal tendencies online.
The murders also caught the attention of Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, who expressed his deep sadness at the case. As a result, Twitter amended its policies to state that users should not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.
If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional distress, I request you to please seek help.
About the Creator
We should enjoy every moment fully, fall in love, make the most of our time, and live without regret. We should cherish the fact that there are still many moments in life that we have yet to experience for the last time.