The Suicide Comics Committed Suicide
(Southern Metropolis Daily)
Zhang Yuanying never imagined that this would happen. Some child actually followed the story in his comic strip <<Let us commit suicide>> and tried to experience what suicide was like. After <Chongqing Commercial News> reported that, Zhang realized that this was a serious smatter. On August 31, he publicly announced that this series of comic strips will be discontinued and he urged all websites that carry these works to delete them.
According to <Chongqing Commercial News>, a Mrs. Yang of Jintang street in the Yuzhong district of Chongqing found her 12-year-old son Zhan Kai bringing a stack of printed pages of the <<Let us commit suicide>> to school in order to share with schoolmates. Zhan Kai said: "This is a lot of fun. Most of the students in class have seen it. They really liked it!" Zhan Kai also proudly announced that he attempted the exercise shown in the comic strips: "You put a rope around your neck and you raised it upwards. You can try to experience the ecstasy of being hung." Zhan Kai tried to put a noose around his neck and tightening the noose with his hands.
Mrs. Yang was very worried that the comic strips are making the children think that suicide is interesting and therefore they are driven to try it out of curiosity.
The principal character in Zhang Yuanying's comic strip is called Black Back. Therefore, the fans call themselves 'Black Rice.' A Chongqing 'Black Rice' saw this news report, and send a scanned copy of it to Zhang Yuanying on August 31. After the Zhang Yuanying saw this news report, he immediately posted an emergency notice at the Tianya forum: <Let us commit suicide comic: emergency notice>. He wrote: "I labeled the comic strip with 'Do not enter if you are under 18 years old," and I included these instructions on the first page: (1) do not read this if you under 18 years old! (2) do not emulate any depiction in these comics; (3) please do not believe in any theory about suicide here. These are only theories, which may even have been created fictionally to achieve a humorous effect. Nobody should attempt to commit suicide just because they read some theory or saw a comic. In order to avoid such incidents, I have decided to discontinue the publication of this comic series. Will those netizens who have re-posted these comic strips please delete them as well!"
When Zhang Yuanying was interviewed by our reporters, he explained in detail that the original purpose of the suicide comics were: Please value your life!
Zhang Yuanying graduated from the Hubei Art Academy in 2004. He came to Beijing to establish the comic workshop named after himself. The principal business is to provide certain animations according to specifications. Due to the fact that the publisher was heavily in debt, the workshop was ultimately disbanded. At that time, he wanted to draw some comics based upon his own ideas.
On a certain day in July, he saw a suicide manual written by a Japanese. After he finished, he felt that the Japanese person was not really trying to teach people how to commit suicide. For example, the Japanese wrote about which kinds of medicine can lead to death when the dose is too heavy. The author was trying to use a special way of communicating certain daily knowledge, as opposed to teaching people how to kill themselves. So he thought about drawing a series of humorous comic strips that will teach people about the beauty of life and the fun in living. One can only enjoy them while alive, and when one dies, one has nothing left.
But he was very worried that people might imitate the depictions in the comic strips. Before he began, he consulted with friends about how to avoid these bad consequences. One of the ways is to make sure that the exercises depicted in the comic strips would not be actually lethal. For example, when the boy Zhan Kai tried to tighten the noose around his neck, "That is definitely not to kill him. When he feels painful, he will let his hand go and then he will be okay." The purpose of these "exercises" is to let people experience the pain (which are not lethal) and ultimate abandon suicide.
Actually, among the QQ fans, someone has told Zhang Yuanying that he had intended to kill himself and came across the comic strips as he searched the Internet for ways of killing himself. But he was delighted from reading the comic strip and changed his mind.
While Zhang Yuanying was happy about that outcome, he did not want to see what happened in Chongqing. Zhang Yuanying said that he was opposed to banning children from understanding suicide. He said that he had thought about killing himself as a child. Even if the parents bar the children from coming into contact with information about suicide, that won't stop the children from thinking. The parents ought to be straight and honest with the children, as in sex education. The children ought to be demystified and faced the pressures on them straight up. It is an ostrich-head-in-the-sand policy to prevent the children from learning.
In the comments at Tianya forum, the majority of the netizens support Zhang Yuanying. Practically no one was against the comic strips.