In causing one’s death, the methods being used today are different but the intent and motivation are more or less the same. One of the frequently used methods involves trains and railroad tracks. Most of the suicide incidents reported in Japan these days involve students who flunked, or knew they would flunk, a high-stakes college admission test administered uniformly to graduating high school students nationwide. Japanese students have been raised to believe that their very lives and future ride on this battery of tests such that failure to pass it could mean the end of the world for them. That means abasement and dishonor to the proud Japanese.
In the psychology of suicides, however, it is said that it is not enough that one’s sense of pride and honor is wounded to want to end it all. A strong instigating factor is stress which, psychologists say, comes from feeling out of control. So if an individual is in control of his senses, he might still seek ways to redeem his fallen honor and thus vindicate himself. Suicide thus becomes an attractive path only for people stressed out by the prospects of failure, which could be the reason for the alarming incidence of such cases among Japanese students. The same thing could be happening to Australian students in the past few years.
A pressure-packed series of tests for pre-college students similar to Japan’s college admission tests has since the 1960s created the same sort of problem for public health and safety in Australia. Like the Japanese exams, a great deal of importance had been attached to the tests for Australia’s Higher School Certificate (HSC) that passing it has become a do-or-die proposition for the students involved. Too much is expected from students going through this examination that flunking it is considered out of the question. The HSC is