Why did the samurai cut their stomachs rather than their necks or anywhere else to kill themselves?
Like the Chinese, the Japanese believe that the life force (ki, chi in Chinese) is centred on the stomach. Choosing the most painful and least quick way to die also had a bit of macho posturing about it.
Why did harakiri (= seppuku) die out?
Somewhere along the way it became a political act as much as a personal one, and as early as when General Nogi commited seppuku after the death of Emperor Meiji, people risked labeling themselves and their families as political fanatics by choosing that extreme method. There is also the practical issue of swords being just as tightly controlled as guns. It must also be remembered that it was only a very small proportion of society that commited (and were allowed to commit) suicide by this method even in the Edo period.
Why do so many kabuki plays end in double suicide?
In the controlled society of Edo period Japan, it was the closest thing to them having their freedom that could be realistically obtained. Alternatively, it was just crap storytelling because the costumes and acting were more important.
Why are internet suicide sites the next big thing in Japanese suicide?
They are the next big thing in Japanese suicide stories in the Japanese and foreign press, but in fact the quickest growing sector of suicides is old people finishing things due to ill health, money problems and/ or loneliness. As to why they sprang up first in Japan, no theories yet…
Why is jumping in front of a train such a “popular” way of killing yourself?
In any society particular methods of suicide go through “booms” that are almost like those of consumer products and are closely linked to the amount of publicity they get. Jumpers can hardly be hidden because of the transport disruption. There have also measures that have made other methods more difficult, such as not allowing solitary men into some hotels
Why do stories on Japanese education in the Western media always mention that the “exam hell” education system leads to suicide?
To be fair, many of the stories start in the Japanese media, where there is culturally even more of a focus on children as innocent victims than in the West. Add to that the need to add something negative to a positive story on Japanese education to provide “balance”. There is a lot of evidence to suggest, however, that university entrance exams are not a major cause of suicide, including the fact that teen suicide is higher during Junior high school than high school.