Pokémon GO Plus Japanese Cliffs Equals Less Suicide

Pokémon GO Plus Japanese Cliffs Equals Less Suicide
Photo: Google Photo Sphere

Some of Japan’s most scenic cliffs are also the country’s most deadly, but PokéStops located near them have decreased suicide attempts.

Pokémon GO has seen its fair share of, dare I say it, negative press recently — a Lapras sighting caused chaos in Tokyo, a Twitch player was mugged during a livestream in New York City, and someone rammed into a police car while driving and playing the popular virtual Pokémon-catching mobile game.

Ironically, there’s a bit of good news surrounding the Tojinbo cliffs, a well-known tourist attraction in Japan that’s perhaps equally known for its suicide rate. Each year roughly 30 people leap to their death from the tall cliffs that overlook the Sea of Japan in the Fukui Prefecture.

According to Yukio Shige, the atmosphere at Tojinbo has “changed drastically” since Pokémon GO released in July. Shige, a 72-year-old retired Japanese police detective, spends his time patrolling the steep Tojinbo cliffs in search of people ready to take their final jump.

“The area around Tojinbo had been very dark and eerie after 5 p.m. after all the tourists leave,” Shige told The Japan Times on Friday. “But since Pokémon GO was released, the area has been bustling, even late at night.”

Shige credits the area’s recently designated PokéStops for a decreased number of potential suicides attempts. “People who contemplate suicide tend to go to quiet places before finalizing their decision,” he said. “But now such places attract Pokémon GO players.”

Since patrolling the Tojinbo cliffs 12 years ago, Shige has saved over 500 lives; he has a knack for convincing high-risk jumpers to not follow through with their plan. He then takes them to the nearby Tojinbo Non-profit Organization Center, a relaxed cafe, to help them seek the mental attention they need.

In addition, Shige hopes to one day see more face-to-face interaction among Pokémon GO players. A planned future software update will incorporate battling and trading, which will create this environment naturally.

If you would like to learn more about what Shige does, the documentary below provides a detailed, first-hand look.

Field of Vision – Gatekeeper

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  1. It’s not as amazing as this but I’ve got a positive story related to Pokemon Go as well.

    A while back, 1 of my precious cats somehow managed to escape from my flat. Since I live in a tower-block and all my cats are house cats, I never thought it possible that 1 of them could get outside. Over the next few days, I was so terrified of what had happened to her, after a couple of days I thought for sure she had gone for good but then I got a message through Facebook from someone local that they may have seen her in a specific location. After I got the info, we set out and to our surprise, there she was! She was very messy and needed a bath but she was alive!

    Afterward, I met up with the amazing person that helped me find her and according to her, she saw the cat because she was out playing, you guessed it, Pokemon Go. Were it not for Pokemon Go, I probably would not have found her and to this day I would still have been wondering what happened to her.

    My cat’s name is Abbey and she’s now safe and sound with me in my flat, I will forever be grateful to the person that found my cat and also to Pokemon Go.


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