In Loving Memory of Hana Kimura
Tragically, on the 23rd May 2020 the world lost Hana Kimura. Kimura was one of the members who made up the cast of the 2019-2020 series of ‘Terrace House’, a Netflix reality series about 3 boys and 3 girls living together which airs weekly and has been a fan favourite for years. At just 22 years old, Hana had her whole life ahead of her. I remember when she first entered the house in episode 20, her sunshine presence was stand-out right from the beginning and her more sensitive side really resonated with me. The way she would get nervous around boys but yet was also this powerful individual who pursued her dreams and passions was admirable and relatable to a lot of young women out there.
Yet, for me it’s eerie to now think about Hana’s more ‘sensitive’ and ‘emotional’ side because it seems like it was a massive cry for help, an individual who felt so unsure of herself and felt immense pressure in the world she was living in. The news of her passing has deeply hit me and many others around the world. It is heartbreaking to see a young, successful woman come to her breaking point of desperation. What is even more heartbreaking is that this keeps happening. The list of individuals who have taken their own lives because of the words of others is endless. Back in february, British presenter Caroline Flack, who was best known for her part on Love Island, also took her life due to public scrutiny and online bullying and harassment.
Online trolling, bullying and harassment have been rampant since the day social media was born. It is easier than ever for trolls to write negative and harmful comments to others as they can hide behind their shield, the screen. This issue exists everywhere but has seemed to reach new heights in countries such as Japan and Korea. In Korea, idols and celebrities face this type of public and online scrutiny to the point where these individuals start to feel unsafe and threatened.
It is not only cyber-bullying we should just be worried about, the dark truth of reality TV also needs to be put into the spotlight. A good friend of mine, Tom Matsuda delves into this issue deeper in his article ‘Reality TV Has A Cyberbullying Problem’. His quote, ‘The death of Hana Kimura should serve as a reminder to society to be kinder in a world that can’t stop judging others’ holds so much truth. In today’s world, thanks to social media and the internet, we are never too far away from criticisms and comments. At times, when watching these types of reality shows, us as viewers forget about this ‘crafting of a character’. Although these individuals are showing us the real them, their personality and traits are twisted in a way that will help serve the purpose of creating drama. In the case of Hana, she was crafted to be the ‘villain’ type after a heated argument which occurred in one of the later episodes. What I now realise more than ever is that actually the premise of shows like Terrace House can do more bad than good. Individuals who partake in this particular show are showcasing their actual lives to everyone in the world; they aren’t actors and there aren’t any ‘scripts’. For them, it must feel like there is no escape.
In light of Kimura’s passing, the Japanese government is working towards a solution to tackle cyber-bullying and trolling online. Yet, it shouldn’t take someone losing their life to promote these discussions. More regulations need to put into place to ensure that individuals feel safe and that those who do harass and bully face the consequences. In addition to this, it cannot be stressed enough that there needs to be more open discussions about mental health. As a society, we have come a long way in breaking the stigma around mental health but we still have a long road ahead of us. For now, we need to keep loving and learning to be kinder to each other.
This post is in loving memory of Hana Kimura 1997-2020.
Please remember, you are never alone. Especially in the current climate of the world, it can feel hard to stay afloat. Linked below are some useful websites and phone numbers.
The NHS: (a variety of helplines available)
Samaritans: 116 123
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273. (A live online chat is offered as well)
Tell: English 03-4550-1146, Japanese 03-4550-1147