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Tokyo gov't offers support on Line app to prevent suicide of youths

This image provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government depicts the chat screen of "Sodan Hot Line@Tokyo" on the free messaging app Line.

TOKYO -- In a bid to prevent the suicide of young people in the capital, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government started operating a crisis support chat on the popular free messaging app Line from April.

"It's the first day of high school, but I already don't want to go," and, "I can't make any friends," were among the tweets assumed to be posted by students. Such tweets began to increase after entrance ceremonies and opening ceremonies for the new semester were held at most schools in Tokyo.

In an attempt to curb the increase of school bullying and suicide, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education delivered a special message through schools run by the metropolitan government, advising students not to face problems on their own. "If you think an issue cannot be resolved by yourself, first consult with adults close to you, including your guardians and teachers," the message conveyed.

Children were also encouraged to use the "Sodan Hot Line@Tokyo" lifeline chat run by the Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health among other solutions. This particular platform was chosen so youths could easily seek advice.

According to the metropolitan government, 31.2% of people in Tokyo who took their own lives in 2017 were in their 30s or younger, which was 5.3 points higher than the national average.

The metropolitan government temporarily ran a suicide prevention hotline on the Line app from March 19 to 31 last year and provided support in some 600 cases. Among these, the two most common issues were on "attempted suicide or a desire to take one's own life" and about "feeling depressed, frustrated, irritated and the like," with 61 cases each. Many users also sought advice about their family and school life such as bullying and being unable to attend classes.

The Sodan Hot Line provides one-on-one counselling until March 31 next year, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. To become a user, one must add the Sodan Hot Line account to their friends list by scanning a QR code provided on the official website and choose from the types of problems they are facing.

For more inquiries, please access the Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health website at (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Akiyo Ichikawa, City News Department)

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