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The word jigai (自害?) means "suicide" in Japanese. The usual modern word for suicide is jisatsu (自殺?).[1] Related words include jiketsu (自決?), jijin (自尽?) and jijin (自刃?). Jigai refers to suicide by both females and males.

Some females belonging to samurai families committed suicide by cutting the jugular vein with a knife such as a tantō or kaiken. The main purpose was to achieve a quick and certain death in order to avoid capture. Before committing suicide, a woman would often tie her knees together so her body would be found in a dignified pose, despite the convulsions of death. Jigai, however, does not refer exclusively to this particular mode of suicide. Jigai was often done to preserve one's honor if a military defeat was imminent, so as to prevent rape. Invading armies would often enter homes to find the lady of the house seated alone, facing away from the door. On approaching her, they would find that she had ended her life long before they reached her.

References

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