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2 Aichi Pref. primary school girls dead in possible double suicide; note hints at bullying

TOYOTA, Aichi -- Two 12-year-old girls were found collapsed and bleeding outside an apartment complex here on March 12 and later pronounced dead after possibly jumping from the building, investigators said.

According to the Aichi Prefectural Police's Toyota Police Station and the Toyota Fire Department, the sixth graders were found collapsed outside an apartment building in the city of Toyota, in central Japan's Aichi Prefecture, at around 7 p.m. Local residents called emergency services and the girls were rushed to hospital, but were confirmed deceased.

Police suspect that the girls may have jumped from the building and are investigating the case. A note including passages suggesting possible bullying was apparently found at the scene.

At a news conference on March 13 following the incident, a Toyota Municipal Board of Education official said, "We have not confirmed whether the students had been bullied. We will carefully investigate the case."

According to the board, municipal elementary schools conduct bullying surveys among students three or four times a year, but there were no reports that the girls may have been bullied.

Naoki Suzuki, chief of the school education division of the board, explained that the girls were in different classes at the same school. He added, "We don't have detailed information about the relationship between the two."

According to the girls' teachers, the two attended school as usual on the day when the incident occurred and had been set to graduate from the elementary school on March 20.

On the morning of March 13, the school held an assembly in which the principal informed its sixth graders that the girls had passed away. The principal explained to them about mental health care and asked the students to inform their teachers if they know anything about the matter. In addition, each classroom teacher from first grade to fifth grade explained about the incident to their students.

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by their sudden deaths and would like to offer our condolences to their bereaved families. Our school will make efforts to collect as much information about the incident as possible," a statement by the principal read.

Suzuki commented, "We place priority on children's mental health care. We would like to investigate the cause of the incident carefully, including whether they were bullied, and will decide how to investigate the case in consideration of the bereaved families' wishes."

(Japanese original by Atsuko Ota, Nagoya News Center, and Sachio Nakajima, Toyota Local Bureau)

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