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The Angel of Nanjing… The man who has saved over 300 lives over the last 14 years

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is one of the most famous bridges in China. It is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. For the past 11 years Chen Si has been patrolling this bridge, looking to provide aid for those who’ve gone there to end their lives. Incredibly, he has saved over 330 people from suicide since he began – nearly one every two weeks.

Text: Matt Young

EXCLUSIVE: One man’s mission to save lives on the world’s biggest suicide bridge became a worldwide story. Where is he now?

A MAN is passed out, completely unconscious, on one of the busiest bridges in the world.

He’s been there for a while. To onlookers, it looks like he’s passed out from a drug overdose. He has tyre tracks embedded in his arm; someone has run over him with their motorbike and just kept going. Here, people don’t bother to stop.

For China’s 1.38 billion residents — almost 20 per cent of the entire world’s population — in a country of smog and population density, life can sometimes be grim.

But in this “constantly churning” atmosphere of pollution and traffic, is one legendary bridge.

The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge carries approximately 80,000 vehicles and 200 trains per day, and has far surpassed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as the most popular suicide site in the world.

Every weekend since September 19, 2003, Chen Si travels 25km from his home to the bridge. From 7:30am until sun down, he spots the suicidal before they get the chance to take the 70m plunge into the Yangtze River — in some cases dragging them back over the barrier, kicking and screaming, to safety.

But not always.

In an exclusive interview with news.com.au, Chen said that despite the bridge closing for construction last year, that hasn’t stopped the suicides.

Another man is roaming the bridge, he’s shirtless and licking something on the ground. Trouble is afoot.

By the time Chen reaches the man, he’s gone. Disappeared without a trace. There’s no way he could have walked off the bridge without being spotted. Chen is sure he’s just jumped.

Despite saving more than 300 people, it’s the people he can’t save that haunts Chen the most.

He says those with a late-stage disease are the hardest to convince to step off the ledge, as filmmakers Jordan Horowitz and Frank Ferendo, who followed Chen for a year in 2015 for the documentary, Angel of Nanjing, witnessed.

“He said to me on one of the first days, ‘I don’t feel like a hero at all for the people I saved, I feel like a failure for the ones I haven’t. That haunts him in some way,” Mr Horowitz tells news.com.au.

“In China, people are very snap decision when it comes to suicide,” Mr Ferendo said.

“When they get upset about something — it’s strange — they forget all logic and don’t think about anything.

“The minute you ask the woman whose husband is cheating on her and she’s trying to commit suicide, ‘who’s going to raise your daughter?’ She’s like, ‘I didn’t think about that’.”

But Mr Si says he’s figured out the four other particular types that come here to bid goodbye; the broken-hearted and the abused among them.

“There was an old man whose wife used to beat him all the time and he came to the bridge to jump,” Mr Horowitz said.

Source: NewsCom.Au

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