As part of efforts by Kobe City to prevent suicides, a number of huge posters (each measuring 2.1 by 1.35 meters), have been set up on local subway platforms at Sannomiya Station in Kobe’s Central Ward. While some have commended the effort, it seems that the crowds of commuters aren’t all on board with the somewhat depressing content, as the move has been generating a lot of criticism from the public.
With barely any illustrations or images to speak of, the black-and-white posters contain messages from people burdened with stress and problems. After the posters first appeared in March, the number of phone calls to the city office surged, with 1.4 times the monthly average calls received. However, rather than being unanimous messages of support, there were many calls of complaint from members of the public who said the posters were depressing to look at.
As an initiative to support Japan’s national suicide prevention month, these posters were attached to 21 pillars inside the station. The posters feature straight-talking quotes from five fictional men and women aged in their 20s and 60s. The quotes are blunt remarks about stresses related to work, child-rearing and caring for sick relatives. The quotes include common inflections used in the local area’s familiar Kansai dialect to make the messages sound more colloquial and increase their effectiveness.
One of the quotes, for example, is from a 35-year-old department head at a company, who says, “Since my promotion, my workload’s suddenly increased and I get home late so my wife and I always argue.”
A 21-year-old unsuccessful job-hunting student says, “Again, my interview sank like a ship. It’s hopeless; I should give up. It’s so bad I can’t sleep.”
Meanwhile, a 57-year-old housewife who is caring for her ailing mother is quoted as saying, “I practically never sleep. And I’m so exhausted having to move her around all the time.”
According to the city office, in the one-month period after they set up the posters, the number of phone calls received rose to 267, compared to their usual average of 195. While there were some favourable comments, net users have been particularly scathing, writing things like, “Every time I see those posters I feel so unpleasant,” and “Every day I’m forced to see these things; I feel like destroying them”.
A housewife from Nishinomiya City who uses the subway said, “I was startled when I first saw the posters, but you can really empathise with the comments and I ended up staring at them.” A 35-year-old male company employee from Kobe’s Hyogo Ward said, “Seeing these troubles, similar to my own, made me feel a bit down.”
Some comments from Twitter users in response to the posters:
“All I can see are posters of complaints.”
“Rather than preventing suicides, these posters are promoting them.”
“It’s foolish to put them up near the platforms. It’s easy to jump from there after reading them.”
“It would be more effective if they had some type of posters showing the sad families that are left behind.”
“By just spreading the thoughts of people prone to suicide, are you really going to prevent it?”
“Of course, I can tell there are going to be complaints about this.”
“These are so depressing. I’m totally against them.”
“These posters are a little hard to understand. Wouldn’t it be better to just have posters with “Don’t commit suicide!” in big writing?”
“These are good. This is reality.”
- “If you see these when you’re coming home tired after a day’s work, you’ll probably want to kill yourself.”
Source: Itai News
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