2016, Society  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 8.73/10 from 71 users.

Retired police detective Yukio Shige is haunted by the memories of those he could not save. He frequently keeps watch on the Tojinbo Cliffs which overlook the sprawling Sea of Japan, seeking any opportunity to save someone from self-inflicted peril. Surrounded by savage waters and jagged rock formations, these cliffs are the site of over 70 suicides a year. The sobering documentary short Gatekeeper chronicles Shige's mission to battle this epidemic through outreach, compassion and understanding.

As a police detective, Shige had far too much experience in retrieving the bodies of suicide jumpers from the bottom of these cliffs. Suicide is not uncommon in Japan; more than 24,000 of the country's residents take their own life each year. This phenomenon is so common and widespread that many of Shige's colleagues developed an apathy towards it, perhaps because it was their only remaining defense mechanism in the face of such titanic suffering and loss. Shige, however, was determined to set in motion a more proactive response to the crisis. After retiring from law enforcement, he started a non-profit support group aimed at assisting those who felt depressed and potentially suicidal.

It hasn't been an easy task. The community has taken advantage of their notoriety as a suicide capital, and used it to grow a booming tourism industry. During one particularly astounding segment of the film, we're placed on a ferry alongside dozens of eager passengers as a tour guide encourages them to photograph the sacred spots where many distressed victims have drawn their last breath.

In spite of these obstacles, Shige continues to soldier on. He and his rotating crew of 20 assistants can't bring themselves to sit idly by as the cliffs claim more lost souls. We witness him counseling a young man who only moments before was teetering on the cliff's edge. Later, we follow him as he frantically combs the area for another wandering visitor he lost sight of in the night.

Gatekeeper is a sensitive and searing profile of an extraordinary man, and a testament to how simple human kindness can mean the difference between life and death when we are at our most vulnerable.

Directed by: Yung Chang

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5 years ago

This documentary shows the power of caring beyond ourselves and to help those in pain and who are obviously suffering. Mr Shiga and his dedicated friends are a living example of this. It helps to know someone really cares when one feels all is lost or so lonely and hopeless....thank you all and God bless you.

5 years ago

Was referring to Dental procedures. However, there are many others.

5 years ago

Admirable. Useful way to spend his retirement. He asks the question, what are we on this earth for? It is a good question that more need to contemplate more often. It seems there are not that many answers. 1) self gratification 2) to inflict our will upon others 3) to find our own path 4) to help others on their path.

In that context it is quite easy to put your own life in perspective and to discern the motives of others.

Thank you Mr. Shiga and those like you for your caring nature. May we all learn to care more. For instance, those who have some authority over others, like bosses. Does deriding someone really help them improve? Maybe some. Is there a better method that would help most anyone improve? Most likely. "You are valued employee. Here is the situation we have. After some thought, this is my suggestion ...unless you can think of a better solution."

Unfortunately drugs and medications can have a severe impact on a persons ability to resist depression and suicide. You even hear some pharmaceutical ads state similar. One wonders how many suicides Big Pharma is responsible for? Even certain medications used in procedures has been found to affect some severely if they get some bad news around the same time.

6 years ago

A lovely, touching story and film. I'm so happy there are people out there in this huge world who care for others.

6 years ago

What a wonderful dedicated man and his lovely hardworking sad wife. These people and what they are doing for the depressed and lost is what makes the world turn around without them life would feel a little cold and heartless in that part of the world? A tourist attraction, for goodness sakes, the only thing I can do to help at this time is to pray for these wonderful people and their situation. Too be surrounded by such darkness may God bless you all and bring you some heavenly light .

Michel Polnicky
6 years ago

He's a good man looking out for lost soul's I wish they would feel the same about whale fishing !

6 years ago

These people should be remained of the beauty of the place, of the beauty of the Earth. The privilage they have of living in such a magnificient planet.

6 years ago

A saviour.