The amount of suicides taking place at Japan's infamous Tojinbo cliffs has reportedly decreased over the last two months as a result of Pokemon GO's popularity.
Niantic's massively popular game, Pokemon GO, has a bit of a bad reputation as some have accused the app as being dangerous to public safety. A driver playing Pokemon GO killed a woman and injured another, explaining to police that he was distracted by the augmented-reality app. In another incident, six teenagers playing Pokemon GO found themselves in danger when they headed to an island to play the game without checking when the tide was going to rise. But in a positive twist, it seems that Pokemon GO can save lives too.
In Japan, the Tojinbo cliffs are often used by people who want to take their own lives, with approximately 150 people committing suicide there every year. But it is now being reported that during August and September, the rate of suicides at Tojinbo has drastically decreased as a result of Pokemon GO.
Yukio Shige, a former police officer who now runs a suicide prevention non-profit explains that "people who contemplate suicide tend to go to quiet places before finalizing their decision but now such places attract Pokemon GO players." Shige also notes that as various PokeStops have popped up near the Tojinbo cliffs, it means that the area has more pedestrians in it now, with Pokemon GO players able to talk suicidal people out of making such a huge decision.
Moreover, he hopes that Pokemon GO events will be held at Tojinbo and at other suicide hotspots and that Niantic will introduce a feature that encourages players to interact face to face. Just last month, The Pokemon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara confirmed that PvP (player versus player) battles are going to be added soon, while trading is also planned for a future update. Both are likely to get players talking to one another, hopefully resulting in more positive results such as those at Tojinbo.
Unfortunately, the 'Pokemon GO is a menace' narrative has been so prevalent that many have already rallied against the app. Pokemon GO has already been banned by Iran "along with several other countries," and the French education minister has called for rare Pokemon to be banned in schools. Governments and government officials have also complained that Pokemon GO players have been flocking to sacred memorials and monuments, even damaging them in the process, as well as the fact that law enforcement can't cope with the influx of people to particular public places.
It's unclear whether the story out of Tojinbo will encourage people to change their minds about Pokemon GO, but many like Shige, who work to stop suicides from happening, will certainly hope so.
Source: The Japan Times