Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chen Si: I have been a cheater

Mr. Chen Si is a volunteer who patrols on the Nanjing Changjiang Bridge on weekends, watch for people who try to commit suicide by jumping from the famous bridge.

The bridge is a famous local landmark. Based on an incomplete official record, at least 1,800 people had died jumping off this bridge since it was erected in 1968. In the three months between March and June 2003, 47 terminated their lives on this bridge, or 1 person every two days on average.

Mr. Chen's first rescue was all by a chance. He saw a woman standing on the edge of the bridge in 2000 when he was driving by. Obviously the woman was about to jump off. Mr. Chen went to the security guards, but was told it's so common that they wouldn't want to bother intervene. Mr. Chen saved the girl's life with help of some tourism. The girl was a college student, whose money was cheated out by a multi-market marketing scam.

In the year 2003, a relative of Mr. Chen killed himself. The man was known as an optimistic person who often cheer up other people, including Mr. Chen. Mr. Chen was puzzled by the death of such an optimistic man, and realized everything could happen in the life. Hearing the news of anther suicide jumping off the bridge, he decided to do something about it.

He has a full time job in the weekdays, and patrols the bridge in the weekends. In the past three years, he has saved 99 lives on the bridge. The government does not give him any help, and local people don't understand why he's so stupid to spend his own money and time on strangers. Furthermore he becomes more depressed the more lives he has saved. Mr. Chen realized there are many reasons people want to kill themselves. Some could be solved with help, some could not be. He saved a woman who spent her last penny on trying to treat her seriously ill son. When there's no hope at all, the woman took her son to the bridge to die together. The woman asked Mr. Chen to help sell her kidney. Mr. Chen refused, as it's illegal in China to trade body parts. 'I have been a cheater', said Mr. Chen. 'I told people lies so that they will think there's hope, but there is not'.

No comments: