TOKYO, February 3, 2016 – In 2015, TELL, a not-for-profit organization that has provided mental health support and counseling services to Japan’s international community for over 40 years, handled over 6,000 calls for support via its free and confidential Lifeline service.
Although around three percent of calls to the Lifeline were from people considering suicide, the majority of calls were from people wanting to discuss feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and relationship issues. The majority of callers were working age women, and 60 percent of callers were Japanese.
Over the past three years, TELL has significantly improved its coverage of Lifeline shifts, from 92.6% in 2013 to 96.1% in 2014 to 98.6% in 2015. A significant contributor to improved Lifeline coverage was TELL’s opening of a telephone counseling facility in Kobe in March 2015 to accommodate Kansai-resident volunteer telephone counselors. The opening of the Kobe phone room, with TELL’s increased efforts to build awareness outside the Tokyo area of its services, has led to an increase in calls from the Kansai region.
The expansion to Kansai contributed to increased numbers of volunteer phone counselors graduating from TELL’s intensive training program, and represents a big step toward achieving TELL’s goal of providing 24/7 English-language Lifeline support service throughout Japan. Online training options have seen an increase in the number of volunteer phone counselors. Last year, TELL increased its number of volunteer phone counselors by 16% over 2014, and the number is up 30% from 2012.
“Last year in Japan, 23,971 died by suicide, and that represents a significant decline from the 34,427 lives lost to suicide in 2003, which was the worst year on record, but nonetheless it is a terrible toll, and every number represents a human being, and a family and friends,” said Vickie Skorji, Director of TELL Lifeline. “The Lifeline is staffed by nearly a hundred well-trained volunteer telephone counselors, but to meet our objective of providing 24/7 support to the community we need more. Research has shown that ‘connectedness’ provides critical protection against suicide, and valuable support for people dealing with many other issues.”
TELL Lifeline provides free, anonymous and confidential counseling and emotional support in times of crisis, and connects people with other mental health resources. TELL Lifeline receives approximately 6,000 calls a year from all over Japan, of which roughly 60 percent come from Japanese citizens and 40 percent from Japan-resident foreigners.
For more information on donations, sponsorship and other means of supporting TELL, please visit TELL’s website at www.telljp.com. TELL offers its TelephonE Counselor Training Program twice a year. The next training program will start in September.