The June 22, 2009 edition of Time magazine was a fabulous edition with excellent coverage and editorials filling its pages. The best article was the Postcard page highlighting a volunteer at Japan’s Tojinbo Cliffs, a story I later found out was previously covered by the BBC in October 2008.
Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with one out of 5 men and women seriously considering taking his/her life. In the past, economic recessions have increased this count, a result being seen again in today’s economic environment.
Yukio Shige, a retired policeman, has spent the last 5 years patrolling the Tojinbo cliffs, a place where many desperate folks come to commit suicide by jumping the 82 feet into the Sea of Japan. Since 2004 he has roamed the cliffs 2 or 3 times a day in hopes of finding these people in need, trying to dissuade them from the act. When successful, he takes them back to his counseling office, offers them tea, listens to their troubles, and then proceeds to help them resolve the issues including personally going with them to confront people. He has been funding his work through donations and his retirement funds, saving over 180 lives to date.
What can we do to help others in these rough economic waters? Many of us obviously do not have the time or money to make an impact like Shige, but we definitely can do smaller acts. How about freely opening up the rolodex to make an introduction for a job seeking friend? Perhaps take time to visit with someone over lunch? Volunteer to help those in greater need? Try to better understand the depression others could be feeling and the best ways to respond? Inquire how you can be of assistance?
What are your thoughts?