By YO SATO/ Staff Writer
January 6, 2021 at 09:00 JST
While growing up in a dysfunctional family, Satomi Takahashi used to regularly endure watching her father beat her mother.
At the time, teachers and neighbors offered the young girl the help she needed to cope with her difficult home environment.
Today, Takahashi, a former psychiatric nurse, is returning the favor by offering lectures around the nation on preventing child suicides.
In Japan, the number of suicides used to exceed 30,000 a year but has decreased to less than that figure annually. However, the suicide rate for minors has doubled in the past 30 years.
Many of these young people decided to kill themselves due to minor setbacks in their daily lives, such as reprimands from parents and issues related to schoolwork and plans after graduation.
Deep down, these troubled minors were faced with difficulties in living.
"It's crucial for adults to notice their SOS signals," said Takahashi, 52.
In 2016, she started giving lectures for children on how to send an SOS and for teachers and guardians on how to receive them.
Takahashi tells adults not to judge children but to listen to what they have to say.
She also supports setting up associations to help children who have lost their parents through suicide.
Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, Takahashi worked as a psychiatric nurse at a hospital in the Tokyo metropolitan area for eight years before taking a job as a college teacher in Miyagi Prefecture.
In spring 2020, she left a position as a professor at the National Defense Medical College to focus on her nationwide efforts for suicide prevention. Although some lectures were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, she spoke on the issue on about 80 occasions.
Takahashi frequently makes business trips, but when she is at home, she cooks for her two daughters and makes time to listen to them because she cherishes her role as a mother.
When she stands at the podium, she hopes that her words will reach those in need.
Once, when she finished her lecture, a male senior high school student approached Takahashi, sending signals of an SOS. But after she listened to him for about 40 minutes, he left with a smile on his face.
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Haruki Murakami and other writers read from books before selected audiences at the new Haruki Murakami Library.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.