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Distraught man on the edge is given an unhelping hand

May 24, 2009|Associated Press

BEIJING — Chen Fuchao was heavily in debt and had been on a bridge in southern China for hours, contemplating suicide, when a man came up to him, shook his hand -- and then pushed him off.

Chen fell 26 feet onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion laid out by authorities. He suffered injuries to his spine and elbow, but survived, the official New China News Agency said Saturday.

It quoted the passer-by, Lai Jiansheng, 66, as saying he was fed up with Chen's "selfish activity." Traffic around the Haizhu bridge, in Guangzhou, had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.

Eleven people have attempted suicide at the bridge since April, news reports said.

"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest," Lai was quoted as saying. "They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

The news agency said Lai was "taken away by police" after the incident Thursday, but did not elaborate. A newspaper report said he was released on bail Friday. Police refused to provide any details.

Chen was contemplating killing himself because he had accrued about $290,000 in debt in a failed construction project, the news agency said.

Lai had volunteered to talk Chen down but was turned away by police, it said. Lai then broke through the cordon, climbed to where Chen was sitting, greeted him with a handshake, then pushed. The Beijing Morning Post had photos that showed Lai saluting after pushing Chen.

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