Christian Clubbing: Club sings for Japanese suicide awareness

Hope Rising helps students to share their concerns and pains regarding suicide.


Caitlin Gaines/THE CHIMES

Christian Leonard, Writer

The Hope Rising club held an open mic event to raise awareness of suicide and the stigma surrounding it in Japanese culture on Monday.


The club previously held the event in partnership with Breaking Chains to promote awareness of enjokousai, or “compensated dating.” Hope Rising organized this semester’s event around the subject of suicide, in part because Japan holds the sixth highest suicide rate in the world at 19.4 suicides per 100,000 people in 2014, according to the Japan Times. To address this issue, Hope Rising invited students to perform and raised approximately $150 for suicide prevention organization Lifelink.

Club officer and junior intercultural studies major Helen Morrison sang “You Were Born to Be Loved” in Korean alongside club president and junior computer science major Hannah Carson as well as a student from Azusa Pacific University, who sang it in Japanese. Members of Hope Rising visit APU’s campus weekly to build relationships with non-Christian Japanese students.

Morrison chose the song because she believes the lyrics of Japanese worship music do not often mention God’s comforts to the distressed. Mental illness remains stigmatized in Japan, causing many of those in the country with depression or suicidal thoughts to remain alone, according to Morrison.

“We live here in America, it’s really easy to find help if you feel suicidal but in Japan… if you have a problem then you have to keep it to yourself,” Morrison said. “The idea that you’re not perfect is rejected.”

Undeclared freshman Joseph Lee, who visited Japan last year for vacation, came to the event to learn more about Japan and the effect suicide has on its people.

“In the midst of all the creativities and the modern world of Japan, it was really easy to sense that there was this emptiness in the souls of Japan,” Lee said. “[Hope Rising] told us they were going to address the issue of suicide and such, and I was just looking into, ‘Maybe I could do something to go there.’”


Junior psychology major Adam Wagenet sang Jon Foreman’s “Somebody’s Baby,” which describes the suicide of a woman. For him, the piece holds personal importance as well as communal.

“I’ve struggled with depression a lot myself and even contemplated suicide a few different times, and by God’s grace never actually attempted it, but I’ve felt some of that,” Wagenet said. “It’s obviously not something I would ever want somebody else to have to go through. I just have a strong passion for that subject and for providing support for people.”

Morrison acknowledges how suicide affects people in places as near as Biola and as far away as Japan.

“Suicide is a universal thing. It’s something that we felt here, and it’s something that people in Japan definitely feel, so we wanted to highlight that and bring it out to the light,” Morrison said.

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