An elderly man dedicates himself to saving lives at Japan’s ‘suicide cliffs’
‘Their cries, their wishes, their hopes… I feel a sense of duty towards them.’
With about 70 suicides per day in 2015, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world. At Tojinbo in Fukui Prefecture – notorious for its ‘suicide cliffs’, where numerous people have ended their lives – the retired policeman Yukio Shige has taken a hands-on approach to addressing the social issue. Alongside volunteers at his Tojinbo Nonprofit Organisation Support Center, Shige patrols the cliffs for anyone who looks distraught, and invites them to his nearby café, where he offers food, an opportunity to talk over their problems and longer-term support if necessary. Over the past 12 years, Shige’s organisation has been credited with saving some 550 lives, even as more and more people have flocked to the cliffs, which have become something of a morbid tourist attraction.