higashikurume-suicideThe line of cars stops. We’re about 200 meters from our destination, but still need to cross the tracks. This evening we’re running session four of The Marriage Course and carrying most of the food for the dinner, as well as the tape for the video lecture. We see the signals flashing, and suspiciously, a train is sitting at a standstill in middle of the crossing. Cars are turning around and coming back in our direction. We grab a cell phone and call someone coming to the course to tell them we’re stuck on the other side of the tracks. They give us the news. Someone just jumped in front of the train.

Railroad suicide is so frequent in Tokyo that rather than being a shock, for most people a jinshin jiko (“personal accident”) tends to be viewed as an inconsiderate irritation. With nearly 2000 train-related suicides in Japan a year (and over 30,000 suicides of all types), it’s easy to lump these individual tragedies into a collection of cold statistics. But this case strikes especially close to home. Just a few yards away is the campus of the Christian Academy in Japan. With hope and help so close at hand, yet another depressed soul chooses to give up on life.

Before long, traffic returns to normal. For most, this evening’s interruption will soon be a distant memory. But during the next twelve months, thousands more will seek the same drastic solution to their inner pain.

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?

People Need the Lord
By Greg Nelson, Phill McHugh
© 1983 River Oaks Music Company   (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), Shepherd’s Fold Music   (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)