Wasabi Stories vol.199: “Lifeline Counseling Telephone Service”


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“Lifeline Counseling Telephone Service”

Today’s story-teller is mystery writer Shizuko Natsuki.

The story is about ‘Inochi no denwa (lifeline counseling telephone service)’.

In Japan, the number of suicides is increasing in the past few years and the number reached 30,000 suicides last year.

Natsuki gave talks at an event hosted by ‘Fukuoka lifeline counseling telephone service’ about 2 years ago. She says it was the first time she got so nervous in her life.


She read a number of books written by the deceased. However, she was so nervous that she could only talk about her suffering from psychosomatic disorder and how she overcame the problem. This lifeline service is originally from Western countries. It started in the mid 20th century and in Japan, it started in the beginning of the 70s in Tokyo.

Volunteers take the calls and help them with advice when people who are mentally wrecked and have no one to fall back call them for suicide prevention.

Volunteers take training for 2 years. Their basic postures are attentive hearing and empathy.

Most of the problems they have will not be solved immediately since they are so deep. However, they might feel a little relieved after talking to someone who would listen deeply.

Sometimes they get calls from people who are in the middle of committing suicide. So the volunteers need to have knowledge of emergency first aid treatment in order to instruct them what to do over the phone to save them.


Natsuki says, “Fukuoka bureau chief said, ‘Making a call to the lifeline is a sign of crying out for help. I would like to let them know that there is somebody who wishes them to live on’. I respect the volunteers for being such good listeners in such tense moment and talking to them at any time of day.”


The NIKKEI 02/03/2010 by Shizuko Natsuki (writer)



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