TELL climb of Tokyo Tower aims to start dialogue on suicide prevention

by Misha Cade

Contributing Writer

While the Tokyo English Life Line was established in 1973 to help the city’s international community, TELL’s services have come to benefit people across the entire country.

Perhaps surprisingly, Japanese speakers have also turned to the hotline as they feel it’s easier to open up to a stranger in English. That’s why, according to TELL director Vickie Skorji, around half of the people who call up are actually Japanese.

TELL hopes to start a conversation on this and other facts about mental health in Japan when it holds its annual Tokyo Tower Climb on Sept. 9 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. Up to 500 participants are expected to attempt the 600-step challenge, which will be accompanied by music, food and a lot of positivity.

A huge poster will be on display at Tokyo Tower during the event so that people can write words of general encouragement on orange sticky notes — with orange acting as the official color of TELL’s campaign. Any profits will go to expanding services.

“Zero suicides is not a fantasy,” Skorji says. “It’s preventable, but only if we start talking about it.”

The TELL Tokyo Tower Climb takes place Sept. 9 from 7:30-11 a.m. Registration costs ¥4,000 for adults, ¥2,500 for kids. The deadline for signing up is Sept. 4. For more information, visit www.telltowerclimb.com.