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00:00:00
this Tokyo call center is a lifeline set up to tackle a problem Japan has struggled with for years suicide volunteers are here to listen a simple act that experts say is saving lives , in two thousand and three suicides hit a peak of thirty four thousand drawing international attention and alarming policy makers today that number is down by forty percent thanks in part to volunteers like these , Thai echo watch not base as her son you keep could have use the help ten years ago he disappeared in the middle of the night police later discovered his body by a canal then more his body was wrapped up in a blanket and he was taken to the hospital for an autopsy he was already in a coffin when they were timed his body later that afternoon I cried and cried today Watanabe leads her own suicide survivors group she's part of an army of volunteers mobilized by the local government here in Akita prefecture a key to had more suicides than any other place in Japan for more than two decades but today it's at the forefront of a national effort to tackle the problem with depression screening and visits by public health workers but also a large network of volunteers seventy three year old Sumiko says life had lost meaning for her until she started getting visits from a volunteer , this is IT help me decide not to give up I guess you can say that thanks to these chats I've become cheerful again Japanese companies have also made big changes making it easier for workers to take leave an offering psychological support in the country's notoriously high pressure work environment experts say these efforts are paying off at its peak Japan suicide rate was nearly triple that of the U. S. since then it's fallen from twenty seven per one hundred thousand people to sixteen but the government says it can do even better and aims to keep pushing not statistic down one listening here at a time