Tag Archives: suicide

Lavender Town Tone

Background: The informant is a 25 year old male who lives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. The informant has been playing video games for about 15 years, is on video game chat platforms, and watches videos reviewing games over the year.

Context: The informant and collector was discussing new video games over the year when at the informant’s apartment. The conversation shifted to Pokémon, given the release of the new Pokémon game.

Me: So, you mentioned Lavender Town? It sounds familiar but what is it?

MC: Basically, Lavender Town is an area in Pokémon Red and Green, you know, like the first of the games. This town is, as you might guess from the name, completely in shades of lavender and has music, as each town has unique music in each Pokémon game, that had very high frequencies. I think it was something along the lines of only children and teens were able to hear the high pitch because we lose the ability to hear certain frequencies as we grow older.

Me: And, this town has a special significance in the game? 

MC: Not for good reasons.

Me: What happened?

MC: After the game was released, in the 1990s, there was a sudden peak in suicides for younger children, around elementary school. Of course, there was a huge fan theory that it as the lavender high tone that was affecting children, causing them to commit suicide and develop illnesses, terrible headaches and stuff. This would always happen right after the children reached the town. So now, Lavender Town is infamous for, well, causing children to die.

Me: And, did Pokémon do anything about it?

MC: Yeah, I believe they changed the music, lowered the tone. But, the idea of the original Lavender Town is still out there. Ask any person who played the original Pokemon games, they will know the Lavender Town Tone. Even newer players, most likely.

Analysis:

Informant: From his words, he never expressed that he didn’t believe in the idea of the  Lavender Town Tone. In fact, he seemed to readily accept it and not question it, and is confident that other gamers also know.

Mine: The Lavender Tone is a longstanding legend about the Pokémon Red and green games. Nobody knows if it’s true or not, but it caused enough damage that they did change the frequency, perhaps admitting to some truth value in the matter. While gaming folklore commonly fades away, especially with the plethora of new games being released each year, it’s amazing how the Lavender Tone has remained for nearly three decades. Still, after searching online, it remains part of the gaming history and consciousness. It’s interesting how folklore can arise based on authored material, simply because of the effects in the real world or the massive outcry a game causes. In my opinion, I could see the frequency being a complete mistake by the sound designer as they wouldn’t be able to hear the sounds. I’m not sure if the game simply happened to be released at the wrong time and was blamed, or if the tones did play a role in the matter? I suppose that’s why it’s a legend – the truth value is questionable.

Haunted Apartment in Worchester, Massachusetts

Background: My informant is my aunt, a woman in her late 50s who lives in Henderson, Nevada (L). L is Buddhist and of Chinese and Burmese descent.

Context: This conversation took place one night over Zoom. L’s experience took place in 2003, her second year in pharmacy school, in the apartment that she rented with her roommate in Worchester, Massachusetts. She occupied the master bedroom, where most of the haunting took place. I reached out to L because I knew she had been haunted by a ghost while in pharmacy school, but I had never heard the full story.

Main Piece

Me: Can you describe what happened to you?

L: That happened in 2003 in Worcester. I was in pharmacy school, my second year. Me and my friend, we rented a room, two bedrooms for $1200. The week before we moved out, the apartment manager called us. They had a furnace room at the 26th floor. Really big rooms, really good everything. They offered us $900. I did not have suspicions. We are students, we are cheap, we didn’t have beds. I looked at it: we’re lucky!

Me: How was your life there?

L: I lived in the master bedroom. The first couple of months were good. In the sixth month, whenever I opened the closet, I just felt like there is a kind of force. Something pushed me! It looked like a wind… I just said I am superstitious because it is snowing, and all windows are closed. Right around 9 months, I knew. My friend slept in a sleeping bag. She said, “L, last night someone pulled my sleeping bag.” I said, “No you studied so hard that you don’t sleep well.” She said “No, it pulled my sleeping bag down six inches.” I said, “put the night light on and sleep.” The second night she told me again. “I saw the guy! He is white, not too tall, 5”2, 5”3. He pulled my sleeping bag to the waist.” I said, “You need a good sleep.”

Me: Did anything happen to you then?

L: After two days to her, the third day happened to me. I finished studying. I did not sleep yet. I put my books on my bed at around 4:30. I pull my blanket to my chest. My blanket is a king size blanket, 7 or 8 pounds. I did not close my eyes. Then the blanket got pulled up.

Me: Like floating?

L: (Eyes wide) Yeah.

Me: What the—

L: The blanket get pulled up four feet high, and you know your aunty is not out of mind, him and me we were pulling and then the blanket was pulled towards the corner of the room. I pulled it back three or four times, and my feet kicked to that corner. And I said “Come! Show me who you are!” and when I kicked, the blanket fell down. I did not see any person walk out, but I was so angry. I just went all over the house. My mouth is yelling. I said, “Show me, show me! Come out!” After that, I came back to the bed. This guy is so crazy! My hands just pulled from me forcefully! I said, “Come out! You come out!” It looked like I saw somebody walk out into the closet. I cannot sleep anymore. From that day, whenever we got home, it looked like panic, you know? I cannot sleep. I’m too tired, but my eyes were wide open.

Me: Wow.

L: I went down to the apartment manager the next day and I said, give me the room story. She pretends to be innocent; you know because we’re Asian. I said, “me and my roommate, we got haunted. You need to disclose the history to me.” And that girl said, “A guy hanged and died inside the room.”

Me: Oh my god.

L: I straight said to her, “Is he hanged inside the master bedroom closet?” She said yes. That’s why I said, my bedroom, in the closet, I feel it. And I said, “is that the white guy approximately 5”2 or 5”3?” She said it’s that guy. Hanged in the closet and die.” I said, “I need the return. I can’t stay in that room.” And she said, “You signed the whole year contract. You cannot.” Our school is sponsor, so the case go back to the school. I insisted to get a refund. The dean called me. He told me I cannot break the contract. We just have to stay there for three more months.

Me: How’d you even survive for three more months?

L: That professor at my school helped us. He is Catholic. He said, “L, you just invite that guy to the church on Sunday. At church tell him to get peace. He is in limbo.” I called my cousin and he called the Burmese monk and sent me a cassette and the holy water. And the Buddhist monk just teach me “don’t fight with him. He is already in the bad stage.” We went to the Walmart and bought the recorder and we played the monks chanting the Dhama. When it stopped we had to flip the tape (laughs). Then we sprayed the room with holy water.

Me: Wow. You tried everything huh.

L: (laughs) Yeah. After that the ghost did not bother us anymore.

Me: What do you think about it now that you’re older?

L: I feel sorry for the ghost. It was in limbo. You know now I am praying more and more religious than back then. Now I pray for those type of people that are stuck in the limbo.

Interpretation:

I was surprised at how extensive and scary the haunting was. I have always known L to be a very confident and logical woman, so the fact that she was so terrified of this ghost scares me. While I do not doubt the authenticity of her experience, I wonder if stress played any role in heightening her fear. She was attending pharmacy school while working at a restaurant, only getting around 5 hours of sleep every night. I also wonder why she did not sue to get out of her contract. As we learned in class, failing to disclose a death on a property can get a realtor in legal trouble. Nevertheless, it was an interesting story from someone that I would have least expected this kind of story from.

A Spirit Still At Home

I am interviewing my uncle, who had a son (my cousin) that died last year to an overdose of pills. The informant believes that after his son’s untimely death, strange sightings occurred that made him believe he was seeing signs of his son’s spirit from the dead.

Me: How exactly did your son die?

Uncle: He passed away from an overdose of sleeping pills. He was having trouble sleeping for many weeks and one morning, he didn’t come down for breakfast. I went up to his room and he was in his bed unconscious. The ambulance came right away but it was too late.

Me: Do you think it was suicide, or rather a mistake?

Uncle: my wife and I believe it was a mistake. DJ was having a hard time in his freshman year of college and came home in a state of depression, but we don’t think he was trying to take his life.

Me: And what is it that seemed strange after his untimely death?

Uncle: After DJ passed, I had multiple situations where I saw signs of him. We put an electric candle that turns on at night in his bedroom window. One morning on my way to work a few weeks after his death, I peered up at his window and saw the candle flickering on and off, which is not supposed to happen during the day.

Me: What else has been strange since he has passed?

Uncle: The other thing that happened which made me believe DJ was still here in some way was with my cameras I have in the backyard to watch birds. There was one beautiful, rare bird that I had never seen in my camera after decades of watching. A few days after DJ’s death, the bird not only came across on my camera, but perched up on the branch next to it and sat there staring for minutes at it.

Me: What do you think the message or sign of this was?

Uncle: If you ask me, I think it was a final way for DJ to say “fuck you” for being bad parents. My wife just thinks it was a sign from him to get our attention.

Me: Has any other sightings happened?

Uncle: Every once in a while, as I’m walking up to my room for bed, I pass by DJ’s room and look in quickly. There have been a few times where I hear his voice or get a flash at him in his room, but every time I run in quickly the room is empty. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had too many drinks, or if I really do hear and see him still in his room.

This story has a place in my heart because it was my own cousin, who I never imagined would try to commit suicide. Looking at some of these strange occurrences that my uncle has dealt with, he seems to think that DJ wants to be seen or heard from his parents still. He claims that part of this may be because of his untimely death, or perhaps because they don’t believe they treated him right. He says in the interview that he believes it’s a final “fuck you” to him and his wife, and I can verify that DJ was the type to show hatred, but I don’t believe that this was the reasoning for these signs. His father also acknowledges that he may just be forcing these signs on himself to try and remember DJ, or to deny the fact that he is gone. Sometimes when he sees a glimpse of DJ or hears him from upstairs, he convinces himself that he’s too drunk or crazy, but it is not unlikely that DJ’s spirit is still within the house. After all, he did die in that bedroom in a way that is untimely. My uncle is not a religious person, but he agrees with my take that DJ’s life may be gone, but his spirit could still be with them in their home. The description by my uncle of the bird sighting he had was especially intriguing to me. The one bird my uncle could never capture on camera for decades gives him minutes of video staring directly into the camera, almost trying to be seen. This makes me wonder how much of a connection this has to how DJ wanted to be seen, heard, or felt by his parents. I’m not saying he reincarnated into that bird in his afterlife, but I would like to think that DJ’s spirit would have the power to create a situation that would make his father happier in such a hard time. Seeing someone that myself and many others loved for his strong will, maturity and sense of humor leave so suddenly (potentially through self harm) was very hard on our family, especially my uncle. Whether my uncle truly did have connections with DJ’s spirit through these sightings is a mystery to us all, but I still have reasonable belief that these were no coincidence. The untimely death, the way he passed, and where he passed all cause me to think that maybe DJ’s spirit is still in the comforts of his home, watching over his parents and enjoying the peace he always wanted.

Fort Ord Suicide Ghost Story

Main Piece:

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (HH).

CB: “Can you tell me about Fort Ord?”

HH: “Okay so i heard this story about the old Fort Ord barracks and how they got abandoned because there was this soldier who… um… was apparently was like ignored and really unhappy for a long time and he would like talk about seeing ghosts and a couple people thought that he was like maybe schizophrenic. But he…uh… he ended up hanging himself in the barracks in front of a bunch of his fellow soldiers. And then, after he died, a bunch of people would say that they could like still hear his warnings and like his stories of seeing things. And hear his footsteps. Its really simple and kinda stupid, but that’s what I heard about the old Fort Ord barraks. And thats why they had to shut everything down because it was like affecting their life and the government was getting backlash for it”

CB: “So, where did you hear this story?”

HH: “Um, it was from someone I knew in high school.”

CB: “What do you think is the meaning behind the story?”

HH: “Um, I think it was that um… the government doesn’t really care about our soldiers and their mental health”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story”

HH: “I think that it’s still very much a problem. Like for soldiers who come back from active duty and they suffer from PTSD, they just don’t really have a lot of resources or outreach. Like they do now a little more that mental health is on the front line of peoples worries, but even now i still think soldiers are kinda shamed for having it.”

Background:

My informat grew up in Salinas, California, which is just minutes from Fort Ord. The fort was abandoned in the 90’s, and there have been all sorts of mysterious stories about the abandonment. The community had a very close relationship with the The old barracks of the fort are a known hangout spot for teens, and with that comes all sorts of ghost stories.

Context:

I had actually called my informant’s mother to interview her about folklore, but my informant overheard the conversation and told me this story. My informant and her mom were in the car, and they told me this story while driving around Salinas. The conversation was fun and casual.

Thoughts: 

I think that ghost stories naturally present themselves whenever there is an abandoned structure. I think that ghost stories are particularly common when dealing with american teen culture.  However, I think that it’s really interesting what the stories reveal about what that culture values at that time. Most of the ghost stories that I’ve heard place little emphasis on who the ghost used to be, just on the death and the haunting. But this story explains a history of untreated mental illness as the reason for the death, and possibly even the haunting. It places a clear blame on the US government for neglecting their soldiers. A lot of the more recent movements for mental health awareness and help have been led by young people, and so it makes sense that the folklore that young people tell would begin to incorporate their values.

Guang Hua has 30 floors; a jump solves a thousand troubles.

Context
The informant is a freshman at Fudan University. We were talking about our lives as college students when she brought up this item.

Piece
光华三十楼,一跃解千愁
Roman form: Guang Hua san shi lou, yi yue jie qian chou.
Transliteration: Guang Hua thirty floors, a jump solves a thousand troubles.
Full translation: All trouble will be solved if you jump from the top of the 30-story-tall Guanghua Building.

Analysis
According to my informant, Guanghua Building is 2 strangely tall buildings at Fudan University. They are 30-story tall, while most other buildings are only 4-5 story tall. Facilities in the buildings are mainly offices.
Besides, this is a parody of a Chinese line from an old book called Zeng Guang Wen Xian

三杯通大道,一醉解千愁
Roman form: San bei tong da dao, yi zui jie qian chou.
Transliteraition: 3 cups to big road, a drunk solves a thousand trouble.
Full translation: A few shots of alcohol delight people, while being drunk solves all the trouble.

The original line explained how alcohol kills all the bad mood. In the parodic version, suicide is likened to alcohol, because once you are dead, you wouldn’t need to worry about anything else. As a parody, this item sounds like it should be dealt with seriously, which adds to its funniness. For the students, they are aware of and even empathetic with college students who commit suicide, especially as a result of academic anxiety. By expressing this possible outcome in a funny way, the students find a solution to solve a cognitive disagreement: a) to kill off anxiety in an extreme way; b) to never think about extreme conducts such as committing suicide.