‘Angel of Nanjing,’ Prevents Suicides From World’s Deadliest Bridge
“Most people I talk to don’t really want to jump into the river. They just want to know that someone, somewhere cares if they live or die. And I do.”
–Mr. Chen, ‘The Angel of Nanjing’
Stretched across the massive cataract of one of the world’s largest rivers, the Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing, China is statistically the world world’s most popular place to commit suicide, with multiple people a day jumping to their deaths in the intractable waters nearly 500 feet below the span.
But in a nation of nearly 2-billion, one man and one man alone has made it his mission since 2003 to patrol the bridge and minister to the hurting people contemplating their own deadly plunge.
Mr. Chen, now known as the Angel of Nanjing, works a menial clerk’s job during the week but has dedicated nearly all of his spare time to studying psychological counseling texts and honing his communication skills in order to quickly penetrate the gloom and depression affecting the minds of despondent would-be jumpers along the bridge, extending care and compassion in a way that has saved more than 5,000 people in 15 years from adding their names to the tragic statistic of the world’s deadliest bridge.
Chen often invites those he saves to share a meal with his wife and daughter at his home and offers continual words of encouragement and hope as he forges lifelong friendships with people he has convinced to step back from the edge of eternity and live another day.
Says Chen, “No one can avoid suffering in this life. I believe it is my special calling to help people stop from turning a bad day into the only mistake they cannot resolve. I can be their friend and their calming voice until they realize the beauty of life again and decide to stop thinking in silly ways. Most people I talk to don’t really want to jump into the river. They just want to know that someone, somewhere cares if they live or die. And I do.”
The story of this remarkable man’s life can be seen in a stunning documentary entitled, ‘The Angel of Nanjing.’ Having crossed the very bridge that is the center of this documentary and Chen’s amazing story, I found it deeply affecting and inspiring to realize how one man with a deep heart has impacted and intervened in the lives of thousands of people in a nation so large that the individual is often swallowed into a meaningless void of statistical insignificance. God Bless Mr. Chen. The Angel of Nanjing.