Jonathan Kaiman, Los Angeles Times:

Almost no one jumps on rainy days.

They jump when the sun returns and the masses step outside, reminding them of their misery. They jump during financial crises and in the early spring, when Japanese schools open and the pressures of life converge.

Yukio Shige’s routine, though, is the same regardless of the weather.

Nearly every day, he clambers across the high basalt columns of the Tojinbo cliffs, the Sea of Japan thrashing 80 feet below. He peers into binoculars, seeking hunched figures on distant rocks, ready to talk them down.

In 15 years, he’s walked 609 people back from the edge.

“The way I save people, it’s like I’m seeing a friend,” said Shige, 73, a retired policeman with a floppy fishing hat and a gentle demeanor. “It’s not exciting or anything. I’m like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ These people are asking for help. They’re just waiting for someone to speak with them.”