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Nov. 27, 2009, Sakai City, Japan: This is a special telephone booth installed close to to where many suicides occur along the rocky cliffs of Tojinbo, a popular tourist spot on the Japan Sea coast. This booth has a sign large sign with a number to call for help, as well as a donation box with ten yen coins and telephone cards for distressed individuals to use as a last resort to save themselves. Located in Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture, the scenic Tojinbo area known for it’s coastal beauty, seafood and onsen hot springs resorts now adds suicide as a reason to come here. In 2008 twenty suicides occurred here, but this figure varies between Sakai City officials and a suicide help group dedicated to preventing suicides here, and also responsible for this special telephone booth. Called Kokoro ni Hibiku Bunshu Henshukyoku, this NPO founded in 2004 by retired policeman Yukio Shige, who along with a group of volunteers patrols the cliffs on a daily basis to deter those contemplating jumping to their deaths. According to Shige, age 65, in the past five years since he founded his NPO, he is responsible for talking 222 people out of killing themselves. But even with Shige’s efforts, the deaths here continue and as of late November, 2009, the current number of annual suicides at Tojinbo stands at thirteen. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and 2009 may surpass the record 34,427 deaths that occurred here in 2003. This increase is though to be a result of the Japanese recession which has been worsened by the global economic downturn. Depression is the number one cause for suicide in Japan, followed by illness and debt. Photo by Torin Boyd.
- Torin Boyd 2009 - All Rights Reserved
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