Via The Telegraph:
Officials in Toyama, a city 186 miles northwest of Tokyo, have launched the nation’s first scheme in which hairdressers are used as mediators between suicidal customers and professional counsellors.
The move taps into the renowned universal skill of hairdressers to lend a sympathetic ear to customers who often feel comfortable confiding in them about their problems.
More than 650 hairdressers in the city are involved in the new project, which involves taking part in training lectures with clinical psychologists to help them identify those in need of specialist help.
The hairdressers are also being given guidebooks to hand out to customers who they believe may be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts and are able to put them in touch with professional psychological counselors.
Visitors offer prayers on the first business day of the year at Kanda Myojin Shrine in Tokyo
Japan is home to one of the highest suicide rates among industrialised nations, with more than 30,000 people killing themselves every year.
Last year 102 people committed suicide in Toyama, reflecting a rate of 24.2 per 100,000 — more than double the suicide rate in Britain, according to World Health Organization figures.
“Since the fall of the Lehman Brothers in 2008, suicide has become an even more serious problem,” added the Toyama government spokesman.
“The decline of the economy all across Japan has sparked an increase in activities to prevent suicide, along with Toyama’s efforts.”
Hairdressers across the city appeared to welcome the initiative, with a growing number of premises displaying government-provided stickers in their window to show they are taking part in the project.