Reinvestigation Finds Hokkaido Girl’s Suicide Caused by Bullying

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Naoki Ogi, head of the reinvestigation committee, hands over its report to Asahikawa Mayor Hirosuke Imazu in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on Sunday.

ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido (Jiji Press) — The suicide of a 14-year-old junior high school girl in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, northern Japan, in 2021 is highly likely to have been caused by bullying, a committee set up by the city to investigate the death said Sunday.

“If there had been no bullying, suicide would not have occurred,” the committee said of the death of Saaya Hirose, who was found frozen to death at an Asahikawa park in March 2021.

Its investigation came after a separate third-party committee set up by the city’s education board said in September 2022 that the causal relationship between the bullying and the suicide was unknown.

The reinvestigation committee said that based on Hirose’s social media posts, the bullying did not become a thing of the past and continued to torment her.

She developed post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the bullying, and as a result of repeated symptoms over a long period of time, she had a sense of fear, a sense of self-blame, a marked decrease in self-esteem, and a sense of isolation and helplessness, the reinvestigation committee said.

At a press conference, lawyer Takeshi Nomura, vice chairman of the reinvestigation committee, criticized the school and the education board over the bullying and suicide.

The school and the education board “regarded the case as a problem behavior by offending students, not bullying, and neglected to recognize and deal with the bullying,” Nomura said.

The reinvestigation committee was established in response to a complaint by the bereaved family that the third-party committee’s investigation was insufficient.