In 2015, Japan witnessed a staggering average of nearly 70 suicides each day, totaling over 24,000 documented cases for the year. Among the nation’s most notorious suicide locations is the Tojinbo Cliffs, nestled within Fukui Prefecture’s national park. Towering at 23 meters high with waters plunging to depths of 20 meters, these cliffs offer a swift end to those seeking to end their lives.

Retired police detective Yukio Shige embarked on a poignant mission in 2004, driven by a solemn pledge to honor the final wishes of those who had tragically taken their own lives. Despite skepticism from others who deemed such efforts futile, Shige remained undeterred in his resolve to intervene and offer hope to those in despair.

His commitment to suicide prevention was spurred by a transformative encounter with an elderly couple contemplating suicide. Despite his efforts to guide them towards assistance, their tragic demise served as a poignant catalyst for Shige’s determination to establish an organization dedicated to suicide prevention upon his retirement.

Tojinbo’s cliffs, once plagued by a daily influx of 20 to 30 suicide cases, became a grim spectacle exploited by tourism. Merchandise emblazoned with morbid slogans capitalized on the tragedy, while the absence of safety barriers heightened the risk for unsuspecting visitors.

The haunting benches near the cliffs bore witness to the poignant rituals of those contemplating suicide—farewell letters, discarded shoes, and heartbreaking instances of individuals taking their lives, sometimes alongside loved ones. Tragically, the cliffs also became a grim dumping ground for victims of murder.

Despite the daunting challenges, Shige and his dedicated team of volunteers embarked on regular patrols of the cliffs, striving to offer solace and support to those teetering on the brink of despair. Over 12 years, their unwavering efforts have succeeded in rescuing 550 individuals, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness of despair.

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