Nanjing’s Yangtze River Bridge has been one of the world’s most popular suicide spots. In the past, we’ve covered a couple brave bus drivers that saved jumpers, but one man named Chen Si has been volunteering on the bridge every weekend for the past 13 years. He has saved more than 300 people.
Last year, filmmakers Frank L. Ferendo and Jordan Horowitz teamed up to shoot a documentary about Chen Si, titled “Angel of Nanjing” for Journeyman Films. Recently, NowThisNews took clips from the documentary and detailed Chen Si’s heroic feats in a short video clip, which has more than 12 million views. They also interviewed the filmmakers, as well as the angel himself.
Chen first started going to the bridge back in 2003, Xinhua reports. He arrived in Nanjing to work and met an old man who offered him lots of optimistic advice. The old man fell ill not too long after and his sons began arguing about inheritance — leading the old man to refuse to eat and eventually pass away. This incident is one of the main motivating factors for Chen to help others. He believes if he just went to talk to the old man, things might have been different. “What could be more important than life itself?” Chen asks.
Every weekend, Chen travels 25 kilometers to get to the bridge, arriving at 7:30 in the morning. He patrols the bridge on bike and on foot. If he meets somebody who wants to jump from the bridge, he talks to them and persuades them not to do it. In case he’s not there when someone needs help, he has also written his number of the bridge for people to call.
One of the reasons Chen can help these people is because he understands what they are feeling. Many of those who commit suicide on the bridge are not actually from Nanjing, but migrants working away from home in the city. Chen said that he was once one of those people, upset by life and far from home, but he has found that there is so much more to live for and doesn’t want anyone wasting their lives like that.
However, his compassion does have its hazards. Just last week, he was attacked by one of the people who he was trying to save.
Watch the trailer for “Angel in Nanjing” below:
Also, check out this deleted scene from the documentary where filmmakers save a man:
And watch the full interview that NowThisNews conducted with the filmmakers and Chen:
– Do not leave the person alone
– Remove any sharp objects, alcohol, drugs or firearms that could be used in a suicide attempt
– Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
– Call the following hotlines for help: Lifeline Shanghai: 021-6279-8990 (English speakers; 10am – 10pm daily); HopeLine: 4001619995 (Chinese speakers; 24/7 toll-free access)
By Sarah Lin