SEOUL, July 31 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite the Seoul city government’s efforts to prevent committing suicides jumping off the bridges along the Han River, the number of people killed themselves using the bridges has been on the rise every year. Especially, Mapo Bridge, which was once dubbed as the “Bridge of Life,” promoted by a major life insurance company, ironically topped the list when it comes to ‘suicide bridges’ in Seoul.
According to the police, as of May this year, a total of 33 people committed suicide by jumping off Han River bridges. Twenty seven people threw themselves into the river in 2012 and 40 in 2013. If the death toll till this May is converted into the yearly basis, it could be 79.2 percent, recording a marked increase over the previous years.
Among the 31 bridges in Han River, Mapo Bridge, notorious for its “popular spot” among the suicidal in Seoul, turned out to have attracted the most suicidal attempts with 9 cases this year (27%) and its ratio last year was 25 percent with 10 cases.
To turn the tide, Samsung Life Insurance, Korea’s largest life insurance company, transformed the bridge into the “Bridge of Life” last year by displaying encouraging messages to prevent the suicidal attempts on illuminating panels above its guardrails. Ironically, now more people are coming to the bridge and drowning themselves into the river.
Here is the video clip for ‘The Bridge of Life’ campaign by Samsung Life Insurance.
All said, such preventive measures didn’t work. So, the local police authorities placed distinctive number plates in every streetlamp on the bridge — to locate easily the people jumped off the bridge supporting the emergency response officers. Borrowing the page from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, well known for the popular suicidal destination in the U.S., which has approximately 130 number plates, the police installed 60 plates so that those witnessed suicide attempts might notify and report the exact spots.
An official at the police said, “In most cases, hearing the reports from passers-by who witnessed suicidal attempts, the rescue workers could face unintended delays if they fail to discern the exact locations. With the number plates, anyone can locate the exact place of throwing, which is expected to help emergency response officers.”
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)