Shoko Nakagawa, or Shokotan for short, is one of Japan’s most beloved and talented celebrities. And when we say talented, we mean that as an understatement, as she is not only a singer-actress, but also a seiyuu, an illustrator, a TV host, a cosplayer, and a gamer. However, she’s also not quite shy about being bullied in the past, and even having suicidal thoughts. And now, she’s talking about those terrible experiences in a new book:
The book’s title is “Shinun janezo!!’ Ijimerareteiru kimi wa zettai warukunai (‘Don’t you ever die!!’ Dear Bullying Victims: You’re Absolutely Not Awful)”, and delves into Shokotan’s experiences as an alienated and depressed teenager. The book itself is part of a suicide prevention initiative.
She recently spoke to Yomiuri Shimbun about her experiences and her new book. She says that she has always loved drawing pictures, especially from manga and video games. This was considered OK in elementary school, but this all changed when she entered a private all-girls middle school. There, her classmates bullied her and called her an “otaku”. The bullying was so bad that her own friends tended to avoid her. Shokotan admitted that at that time, she didn’t want to go to school, but also didn’t want to admit that she was getting bullied. She would often feel sick and would also throw up in the toilet every time she went to school. She could often hear her classmates talking that she threw up again.
And then the bullying intensified as she reached her third year of middle school. You know those typical bullying tactics you see from anime, such as tampering with her shoe locker, hiding her shoes, etc.? Well, her classmates actually did those things to her. And on the day her shoes went missing, she reported it to her teacher, and told that teacher of the extent of the bullying. Her teacher would buy her a new pair of shoes, but then demanded that she also pay for those new shoes. Shokotan would later admit that she “couldn’t even trust the adults”. She would then stop going to school and would not even show up in her own graduation ceremony.
Finally, she said that because of all that, she contemplated suicide. But she did not go through all of it because she got through the pain. Her hobbies like drawing, listening to music, playing video games, and reading manga even helped a lot. She also left a message for the people who are even thinking about ending their life:
Please don’t turn your eyes from the things you like that made an impact on you. If you continue living, even just little things like eating nice food or looking forward to an upcoming game release can make some days feel a tiny bit better. I want you to keep living, one day at a time.”
Her new book is a message for teens, and they’re even timing its release to a period in Japan where suicide rates usually go up, and that is around August, where classes resume after summer vacation.
If you are also struggling, please don’t lose hope. There are suicide help lines here in Southeast Asia, and you can talk to someone there:
- Indonesia: Kementerian Kesehatan: 150-0454
- Malaysia: Befrienders (http://www.befrienders.org.my) Hotline: 03-79568144 or 03-79568145
- Philippines: The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (http://www.ngf-hope.org/contact-us/) Hotline: (02) 804-HOPE (4673) or 0917 558 HOPE (4673), Manila Lifeline Centre: (02) 8969191, National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 0917-899 8727 or (02) 989-8727 (open 24/7)
- Singapore: The Samaritans of Singapore (https://sos.org.sg/), The Institute of Mental Health (Singapore) 24-hour Mental Health Helpline (https://www.imh.com.sg/contact-us/), The Singapore Association of Mental Health (http://www.samhealth.org.sg/)
- Thailand: Samaritans of Thailand: (02) 713-6793
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun