Over 200 people tried to jump off China's Nanjing Yangtze Bridge last year, making the road and rail bridge the preferred spot for Chinese who attempt to end their lives, police said.
"Fortunately, most of the people who tried to commit suicide were restrained by police, but still about 15 of them did manage to jump off and died," an officer with Nanjing Railway Police told Xinhua on the phone.
The officer, who identified himself as Zeng, refuted previous media reports that since 1968 nearly 2,000 people had ended their lives at the bridge in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, but admitted the bridge spanning the Yangtze has become a favorite suicide location.
Police records show that the number of people rescued or restrained at the bridge ranges from 100 to 200 per year.
The Nanjing bridge is the first bridge on the Yangtze River. The construction of the 5,773-meter-long bridge was kicked off in 1960 and completed in 1969. The bridge was hailed as a major engineering feat of the People's Republic of China for a long time and has always been a major tourist attraction in the ancient city.
Chen Jin, director of the Crisis Prevention Center of Nanjing Neurosurgery Hospital, said Chinese who want to commit suicide often choose famous places such as scenic spots for their last moments. He blamed extensive media coverage for encouraging depressed people to target those places.
Most people trying to jump off the bridge are unable to cope with unhappy love affairs, marital or financial problems. Unable to find a suitable channel to alleviate their depression, they choose a radical solution, experts said.
But, police said, among the hundreds who tread the Nanjing bridge, some did not intend to jump but used a suicide attempt as a means of coercing others into fulfilling their demands.
About 280,000 Chinese commit suicide every year, according to official estimations.
(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2007)