Japan youngster starts volunteer online message counseling

Virus Outbreak One Good Thing Lonely Japan
Koki Ozora, a college student who started a nonprofit called "Anata no Ibasho," or "A Place for You," talks with a woman who'd like to help Ozora's organization, as he speaks in his office in Tokyo on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Suicides are on the rise among Japanese teens and that worries 21-year-old Ozora, who grew up depressed and lonely. His online Japanese-language chat service, run entirely by volunteers, offers a 24-hour text-messaging counseling for those seeking a sympathetic ear, promising to answer every request, within five seconds for urgent ones. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

TOKYO (AP) — Suicides are on the rise among Japanese teens and that worries 21-year-old Koki Ozora, who grew up depressed and lonely.

His nonprofit, A Place for You, is run entirely by volunteers. It offers a 24-hour text-messaging service, promising to answer every request — within five seconds for urgent ones.

The online Japanese-language chat service has grown since March to 500 volunteers, many living abroad in different time zones to provide counseling at nighttime when the need for suicide prevention runs highest.

What makes Ozora’s idea work during the pandemic is that it’s all virtual, including training for volunteers. It receives about 130 messages a day.

Categories: National News