While local and international media outlets have been quick to warn us of the dangers, deaths and accidents related to the Pokemon Go mobile gaming phenomenon, for one area in Japan, the game is said to be having a positive effect. According to a report on Fuji Television’s morning program "Mezamashi Terebi," Fukui Prefecture’s Tojinbo, one of the country’s most notorious suicide spots, has seen a decrease in suicides, and people are speculating that it might be linked to the arrival of Pokémon Go, as the previously lonely and desolate environment has now become a busy spot for families and groups, who gather in the area both day and night to play the augmented reality game.
The reason for the area’s popularity with gamers is the fact that it’s one of the few Pokestops in the region, drawing crowds from afar who come in search of catching some rare Pokemon.
One of the local residents, retired police officer, Yukio Shige, is well-known for patrolling the area with a team of individuals dedicated to preventing suicides by talking to people who look like they’ve come to the cliffs to take their own lives. According to Shige, their initiative has helped to prevent more than 500 suicides in 11 years.
The report showed Shige commenting on the change in the area, saying that with so many Pokemon trainers now in the vicinity, people who come to the cliffs with thoughts of suicide would now be able to see other people around them, giving them a chance to rethink their actions and hopefully realise that ending it is not the way to go.
However, it’s not clear exactly how large of an impact Pokemon Go has actually had. J-Cast News, a popular news site, pointed out that local emergency services, cities, and other organizations have been working to prevent suicides for years — and, in fact, a report in 2015 indicated that 2014 saw a five-year low in incidents. J-Cast News further found that suicides had been on a downward trend for some time. When asked about the impact Pokemon Go had, the local police department replied that while it was certainly true that there were players in the area day and night, they couldn’t confirm one way or another if it had an impact on preventing suicides.
If you or someone you know is in Japan and having suicidal thoughts, there are people here to help. Click here for more info.
Source: Hamusoku, J-Cast News
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