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Angel of Nanjing movie poster.Angel of Nanjing (2015)—China

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is a national landmark, and the longest and one of the most famous bridges in China. It is also one of the most popular places in the world to commit suicide, with over 2,000 deaths from 1986 to 2006. Since December 19, 2003, a Good Samaritan named Chen Si has patrolled the bridge in order to prevent people from killing themselves. After working all week at a regular job, every weekend he rides his motor scooter to the bridge. He has no particular training, just a bright red jacket that says "Cherish Life Every Day" and a heart-shaped sign. He talks people down, grabs them from the bridge, gives them money, buys them a meal, provides them with food, helps them get jobs, offers them a pamphlet, rents them an apartment, and makes sure that they have his mobile phone number. Every year he throws a Christmas Party for survivors and the volunteers who now help him. Chen has saved over 300 people, and developed his own taxonomy of five main reasons why people commit suicide. But he has also watched 80 to 90 people plummet to their deaths, and been slapped and cursed. The work, he says, has had "a profound impact on me." By his own description he is a heavy smoker and drinker. He feels guilty for those he has not saved, and struggles with depression. Chen Si has been featured in various media, including a 2004 article in the New York Times. This documentary film about him has won numerous awards at small film festivals. It's in Chinese with English subtitles.  I watched it on Amazon Streaming.

Dan Clendenin:

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