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Nov. 26, 2009, Sakai City, Japan: This is 66 year old Isao Saito, a retired police officer from Fukui Prefecture patrolling the rocky cliffs at Tojinbo for possible suicides attempts. He is right at the precipice where many have jumped. Mr. Saito is a member of the NPO suicide prevention group Kokoro ni Hibiku Bunshu Henshukyoku, which was founded by 65 year old Yukio Shige (pronounced shee-gay), a retired policeman from Fukui Prefecture who took up his cause in 2004, just before retirement as a police deputy at a nearby police station. When Shige discovered how many suicides were occurring here, he began patrolling the cliffs of Tojinbo in order to spot those contemplating suicide. Upon retirement Shige opened a small cafe at Tojinbo where he also set up his NPO. Since then other volunteers like Mr. Saito have joined his cause and as of November 2009, he and his group have talked 222 out of committing suicide. They do this by patrolling the cliffs daily with binoculars in hand, and when they spot someone they kindly approach them and coax them away to Shige’s cafe where they offer them tea and rice cakes. They also see these people home safely, and in cases where an individual is homeless, they find them accommodations. However there are still some that slip past their watchful eyes and so far in 2009 thirteen people have jumped to their deaths here. 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 thought 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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