A KNOWN suicide spot has undergone a major revamp to deter people from taking their own lives – but the rate of deaths has gone up six times since.
More than 100 people attempted suicide at Seoul's Mapo Bridge between 2007 and 2012.
In an attempt to repair the bridge's reputation and prevent more deaths, authorities launched a public service campaign and gave the South Korean bridge a makeover.
Grey guardrails adorned with LED lighting, messages, and pictures of happy families transformed the notorious site, with hopeful slogans including: "Your worries will feel like nothing when you get older" and "A difficult moment will eventually flow like the river below".
There were even a number of sculptures, including one of a man comforting a friend, erected to remind people who visit the bridge that there is always someone they can lean on.
But among the messages of "encouragement" were some bad jokes and questionable words such as, "Try it, then" and "Hahahahahaha", Korea Herald reported.
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The project was praised and lauded with some 37 advertising and PR awards, but it would seem initial hopes for its effectiveness were misplaced and the new measures were deemed a failure in 2015.
In the year after the transformation was completed, 93 tragedies occurred at the bridge, more than six times as many in the previous year.
Local residents believed the messages strewn across the spot only strengthened the association between Mapo Bridge and suicide.
It became apparent a second makeover was necessary and, in 2019, the slogans were removed.
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Those who visit the bridge today will notice CCTV cameras and emergency bells to alert rescuers have been installed.
Most sections of the bridge also now have anti-suicide railings which, at eight feet tall, tower well above the height of an average Korean man.
Suicide attempts at Mapo Bridge fell from 211 in 2016 to 150 in 2017 after the high railings were introduced.
The bridge also now has a pressure sensor that detects when people grip the guardrails harder than usual.
Meanwhile, in North Korea, leader Kim Jong-un has issued a secret order outlawing suicide following a spike in citizens taking their own lives.
He defined suicide as an act of "treason against socialism" and ordered local governments to take preventative measures.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service found suicides were up 40 per cent this year compared with last, explaining: "There are a lot of internal unrest factors in North Korea due to people’s hardships."
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
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