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This man has dedicated his life to patrolling Japan's lonely cliff-tops to prevent suicides

Yukio Shige wanted to offer help to others when they needed it most - and to date he has saved over 500 people

Kiran Moodley
Wednesday 01 July 2015 18:12 BST

Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world - but one man has devoted his life to help bring the unfortunate figure down and has saved over 500 lives to date.

Yukio Shige is a 70-year-old retired police officer who told Japan Today that he is the "chotto matte man": "chotte matte" means "Hold on, wait."

Every day, Shige patrols the Tojinbo cliffs on the Sea of Japan along with three volunteers, keeping a look out and talking to people contemplating ending their life. The popular tourist site is a notorious place for suicides.

Shige himself knows the pain of dealing with suicide: a few years ago he got a call from the police concerning a friend. "They told me he killed himself. He rented a car in north eastern Japan and drove into the ocean.

"I've seen so much grief. I don't wish to hear anymore more mourning," Shige says, discussing how he uses pair of binoculars to survey the nooks and crannies of Tojinbo in his daily search.

Watch the video here:

The 2014 suicide rate in Japan was 24.1 per 100,000, according to the government. The rate has come down in recent years after peaking at 33,093 in 2007, forcing the government to vow to cut the suicide rate over the next decade with new measures to improve counselling and monitor websites that help people form suicide pacts.

"If you stop and picture that scene; someone sitting and believing that their only option is to end everything, alone with their shadow, I truly feel that they want help. They want someone to step in and save them.

"We take those that want our help to the six apartments we own so that they can repair and rebuild their lives. We help them get their lives back.

"This is is what I do.

Anyone in need of confidential support can contact the Samaritans in the UK 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90.

Video courtesy of Inkerman Road. To watch the full two-part documentary, click here.

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