Photo/IllutrationStaff of the Internet Hotline Center Japan detect and report illegal postings on the Internet in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

In the wake of the recent high-profile killings and dismemberment of people who expressed a desire to commit suicide, the government announced measures on Dec. 19 to help those posting such thoughts on social networking services.

The Internet Hotline Center Japan (IHC), which is under contract with the National Police Agency, is expected to monitor such comments related to suicide beginning in January 2018 at the earliest.

Currently, the IHC monitors illegal data publicized on the Internet including obscene images, child sexual abuse images and advertisements on controlled substances and reports them to police. Comments from those who express a desire to die will be included in the items reported to law enforcement.

Furthermore, the government will entrust other private organizations to keep close tabs on such postings on the Internet.

When such comments are posted and specific information including the date, time and place of the suicide attempt is learned through such measures, police will contact the poster and encourage them to talk with staffers who can provide support.

The new strategy also includes measures to supply additional mental health care for youths who post such comments.

If the comment “I want to die” is posted on SNS, contact information for suicide prevention nonprofit organizations will be displayed on the screen. SNS service providers will be encouraged to introduce such systems.

Municipal governments will also be asked to establish a system on SNS about suicide prevention for those who are experiencing difficulties to talk to someone.

In the slayings and dismemberment of nine people in an apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, uncovered in late October, the victims met the suspect who responded to their suicidal desires through SNS.

A Cabinet meeting to work on countermeasures for incidents that are similar to the Zama case was held in November and discussions have continued since.