Sat, Apr 26, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Man finds life after loss

MOVING FORWARD:A Yunlin County man rebuilt his life after a failed suicide attempt led to surgeries that grafted tattooed skin from his legs onto his face

By Chen Tsan-kun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chen Chung-hai holds a picture of himself from before he burned himself, in Yunlin County on Thursday.

Photo: Chen Tsan-kun, Taipei Times

A suicide attempt taught a man to accept himself and cherish life.

Chen Chung-hai (陳中海) tried to kill himself through carbon monoxide poisoning by burning coal at his home after he and his girlfriend broke up eight years ago. However, choked by the smoke, he fell on the stove, burning his face.

By the time he regained consciousness, he was on a bed in a hospital, after doctors grafted skin from his legs onto his face.

Chen had tattoos on both legs, and the graft to the right side of his face transferred them, causing him to avoid mirrors for a long time.

For Aboriginal people, face tattoos are symbolic, Chen said. However, his tattoos only reminded him of his failed romance, he said.

Chen said he had been sensitive to strange looks from other people, but that he eventually persuaded himself to engage with his new life.

He said he was extremely grateful to his family for not giving up on him, adding that the Sunshine Social Welfare Association had also tried to help him by pointing him toward a job in Greater Taichung.

Chen said he returned to his family home six years ago due to job issues. Now he sells pig blood soup with his younger brother.

“Time truly does heal wounds,” Chen said.

Chen’s mother remembered hearing he had been hospitalized.

“It was the day when my granddaughter was born, and the entire family had been immersed in the joy of receiving a new member,” she said, adding that “the news was nothing short of a bomb going off among us.”

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