Saturday, May 03, 2008

I need a new hobby

The other day I was reading about Chen Si, a man in Nanjing, China, who visits the Nanjing Bridge every weekend to hunt down and prevent people from jumping off the edge to their death. Over the past fours years he claims to have saved 144 lives.

The 39 year-old shipping manager told the NYT back in '04: "It is very easy to recognize [potential jumpers]. "A person walks without spirit."

According to some estimates, suicide is the leading cause of death for Chinese between aged 15 to 34. Reports claim that 1,000 people have killed themselves by leaping from the "Chinese bridge of death" since it was opened 40 years ago as a symbol of communist might. According to the LA Times, official estimates put China's annual suicide rate at 280,000--twice the number of U.S. deaths per year.

According to a story about Si in 2004, he had saved 42 people. Four years later, he reports 102 more potential jumpers stopped in their tracks. At one point he made and distributed pamphlets listing his personal cellphone number as an emergency hot line. He chronicles this weekend obsession, and the emotional turmoil it has put him through, and there is talk that it may be turned into a book.

I live by a bridge that people like to fling themselves off of, too. All I need is quality binoculars, running shoes, and some fresh Krispy Kreme donuts. Not for me, for the jumpers. Who's with me?

1 comment:

Sean Wraight said...

Heartbreaking stuff Amity. If you have never seen this documentary before I highly recommend it.

It's more than a little harrowing to watch. Perhaps moreso with the familiarity of the Golden Gate Bridge at its heart but well worth your time.