"This is is what I do.”
In Japan, the country with the highest rates of suicide, depression’s sickly grip is responsible for an average of 30,000 deaths per year.
Because a smile or a few words of support can do wonders for those contemplating early death, one man in Japan has dedicated his retirement years to watching the cliff-tops overlooking the rocky waters of Tojinbo. Incredibly, he has already participated in the saving of over 500 lives.
Yukio Shige, a 70-year-old retired police officer, told Japan Today that he is the “chotto matte man”: “chotte matte” means “Hold on, wait.”
Yukio’s mission is to connect with individuals considering early death and reduce the rate of suicides in Japan one person at a time.
Every day, the former officer patrols the Tojinbo cliffs on the Sea of Japan along with three volunteers. Together they keep a lookout and talk to people contemplating ending their life. Apparently the popular tourist site a notorious location for suicide.
Perhaps the reason Shige is so passionate about this work is because he himself has been affected by suicide after a friend chose death. A few years ago he received a call from the police concerning a friend. “They told me he killed himself. He rented a car in north eastern Japan and drove into the ocean,” he said.
“I’ve seen so much grief. I don’t wish to hear anymore more mourning,” Shige says, sharing details of how he uses pairs of binoculars to survey the nooks and crannies of Tojinbo is his daily rounds.
In 2014, the suicide rate in japan was 24.1 per 100,000, according to the government. Recognizing that such numbers are unacceptable, the government vowed to cut the suicide rate over the next decade with new measures by improving counseling and monitoring websites that help people form suicide pacts.
Since its vow, the rate has come down in recent years after reaching a high at 33,093 in 2007.
“If you stop and picture that scene; someone sitting and believing that their only option is to end everything, alone with their shadow, I truly feel that they want help. They want someone to step in and save them,” disclosed Yukio.
“We take those that want our help to the six apartments we own so that they can repair and rebuild their lives. We help them get their lives back.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact a suicide prevention center asap near you. It is never too late to choose a new route, and there are people who believe and support your mission in this life.
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