Feel Good Friday: Youth Lead the Mental Health Way in Japan

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

His nonprofit “Anata no Ibasho,” or “A Place for You,” is run entirely by volunteers. It offers a 24-hour text-messaging service for those seeking a sympathetic ear, 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 during those hours when the need for suicide prevention runs highest, between 10 p.m. and the break of dawn.

These individuals have begun compiling data from Anata no Ibasho for a research project. They hope to pursue graduate studies in the U.K., a world leader in tackling the public health issue, with a minister for loneliness since 2018. But his biggest dream is to have a happy family. “I never had that,” he said. “There is a father, and there is a mother. The children are happy and can do whatever they want. It’s an everyday family. But, if anything, that is what I want the most.”

Read more at APNews.com.