The fire department in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bali District (八里) is calling for the height of the side railings on Guandu Bridge to be raised after a number of people committed suicide by jumping into rivers in the past two months.
In all, 10 incidents involving suicide or bodies retrieved from the Tamsui River (淡水河) were reported in April and last month, the New Taipei City Fire Department’s Bali Fire Brigade said.
According to Bali Fire Brigade official Huang Yu-an (黃禹安), due to the high number of suicides in the past two months, the brigade dispatched staff to where the suicides took place for in-depth analysis and found that the railings on the Guandu Bridge were too low.
Anyone who wanted to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge would be able to easily leap over the railings, Huang said.
Further reports by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) confirmed that the lowest point of the railings only came up to an adult’s waist and posed no difficulty for anyone who wanted to climb over them.
“We are still calling for people to respect life and not give up on it so easily, but if the side railings on the Guandu Bridge were raised, it would present more of a physical obstacle for those who want to jump off the bridge,” Huang said, adding that it would also be an effective barrier for preventing accidents among the elderly and the young.
Such an obstacle would give firefighters more time to dissuade people from committing suicide and get them off the railings and thus save more lives, Huang said.
There were five incidents in April, the department said, adding that on April 5, 57-year-old Hung Chen Chin-yu (洪陳金魚) committed suicide after jumping off the Guandu Bridge. Her body was found days later floating down the river.
At 2pm on April 8, the body of a 58-year-old man, later identified as Chou Kuo-wen (周國文), was found drifting in the river and retrieved by firefighters, the department said, adding that on April 14, a 74-year-old woman, named Yan Hsiao-tsung (嚴曉聰) threatened to jump off the bridge but was dissuaded by firefighters.
At 3:50pm on April 16, the body of a 43-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Kuo (郭), was found floating in the river and was retrieved by firefighters, the department said.
At 12:35am on April 17, a 35 -year-old woman, surnamed Tai (戴), attempted suicide by walking into the river after drinking in front of a convenience store on Guanhai Boulevard in Bali. She was pulled out by firefighters.
The Bali Fire Brigade also reported five incidents last month, with the first case — a suicide — of a 43-year-old man, identified as Lin Yung-yi (林勇議), being retrieved after jumping off the Guandu Bridge.
At 2pm on May 8, firefighters retrieved an unidentified corpse from the river, the department said, adding that at 11pm on May 15, it received a call about a woman having walked into the Tamsui River.
At the time of the call, the woman was already neck-deep in the river and despite four hours of searching, her body was not found, the department said.
As of press time, the woman was still missing.
A 37-year-old man named Lee Tsun-neng (李村能) had spoken of jumping off the Guandu Bridge at 12:37am on May 19, but firefighters managed to pull him off the bridge, according to the department.
On Wednesday, a man fishing by the Tamsui River called the department, saying that another man had gone for a swim in the river after imbibing alcohol, and despite being rescued by firefighters, he insisted on getting back in the river.