Through a grant provided by Zoom Cares, Light Ring is able to further its efforts to support children and young adults at risk of suicide. Learn more about Light Ring and Zoom Cares’ impact below.
About Light Ring
With a youth suicide rate persisting above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average, suicide remains the most common cause of death among people aged 15-34 in Japan. Against this backdrop, Light Ring is a non-profit organization operating throughout Japan, dedicated to the prevention and early intervention of mental illness and suicide among children and young adults. A key partner of the Japanese government’s Loneliness and Suicide Countermeasure, Light Ring provides mental health education and ongoing support for young “Gatekeepers,” – similarly-aged friends, family, and partners – and by doing so aims to break down societal stigma surrounding mental health and empower young people with the tools and knowledge to support each other through periods of mental health difficulties and suicidal ideation.
While mental health specialists and trusted adults may be a valuable source of support for young people seeking support, a societal backdrop of persistent societal stigma towards mental health problems often leaves youth unable to access these resources at the critical early stage. Here’s where Light Ring comes in, to facilitate and train a network of “Gatekeepers” consisting of faces these young people may instead first turn to for support, such as similarly-aged friends, family, and partners, long before they come into contact with professionals. Gatekeepers are trained on self-care techniques to avoid burnout, and given ongoing access to Light Ring’s online platforms which facilitate peer supervision and receiving advice from mental health specialists. Through building up this network of Gatekeepers, Light Ring aims to facilitate effective early intervention for suicidal youth before their difficulties escalate.
Light Ring creates these robust support systems with the understanding that suicide rates are on the rise due to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Bringing together teams of youth support specialists, including psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, Light Ring hosts 5-point trainings to teach community volunteers knowledge of mental illness symptoms common in adolescents, including more specific education focusing on strategies for responding to peers in times of mental health crisis.
“We build communities that focus on mental health and wellness to prevent suicide in young adults. Rooted in an understanding that support systems are key for prevention and intervention, our communities provide the social assistance needed to save the lives of our youth.”Ayaka Ishii, Founder & Representative Director of Light Ring
Light Ring & Zoom Cares
With the support of a Zoom Cares grant, Light Ring was able to conduct its program for children and young people, the ringS program, online for 180 gatekeepers, who were each able to support at least 3 young people at risk of suicide. The Zoom Cares grant is also enabling Light Ring to continue its mission in creating a national network of support resources for Gatekeepers. In doing so, Light Ring is playing a crucial role in the national effort by the government and non-profits alike to combat loneliness and suicide across Japan.
How Light Ring Delivers Impact
To date, Light Ring has trained and supported over 22,000 gatekeepers. With the expansion of trained individuals in locations beyond Tokyo, Light Ring is committed to saving lives of youth across Japan with the help of their support networks. Light Ring fully appreciates the need for ongoing evaluation research for refinement of its materials and strategy; to that end, the first evaluation of the online ringS programme was conducted in 2021, and LightRing aims to conduct further evaluation in 2022-23.
“From now on, I will be aware not only of statements and surroundings of individuals, but also of their behavior and vibes — I will try to step in and speak to the person with potential suicidality.”
— M.I., Former student who recognized S.O.S. from her sister with schizophrenia