When something particularly bad or painful happens, some people just withdraw and never come out of their cocoons. They can recover slowly or they can get worse and one day decide that they want nothing more than to end it all.
So many of the latter go to the Mapo Bridge in South Korea to do just that. Between the years 2007 and 2012, more than a hundred people jumped from the bridge in attempts to end their lives. They might not have gotten the help they needed previously, but you can at least convince them otherwise at the last minute. That’s what the Seoul City government is trying to do in collaboration with Samsung Life Insurance.
Instead of constructing high fences or a suicide barrier on the bridge, they added interactive handrails that address passersby directly. They’re embedded with motion sensors to detect the presence of anyone near them, so when someone passes by, the handrail lights up with an inspiring quote or message that were written with the help of psychologists and suicide prevention specialists.
A sample message is as follows: “How have you been? Have you eaten? If you need to talk, why don’t you talk to us?” This is then followed by a number for a suicide hotline.
Since launching the project, the Seoul City government claims suicide rates from the Mapo Bridge have dropped 77%. This potential lifesaver is just ingenious, and while it won’t solve the underlying problems of potential jumpers, it could convince them to get the help they need before taking their lives.