South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the 20 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and it's carried that unfortunate statistic on its back for the past eight years. Between 2003 to 2011, 1,090 people committed suicide by jumping off bridges spanning the Han River, with the Mapo Bridge – nicknamed The Bridge of Death – saddled with the highest death toll.

The solution, conceived and carried out by Cheil Worldwide and Samsung Life Insurance, along with the Seoul City government, was not to install large railings to block people from climbing over the edge, but instead to transform it into The Bridge of Life, making the bridge an interactive experience that displays happy thoughts and messages of hope as people walk by.

The messages on the bridge are intended to make people feel happy, according to The Inspiration Room, with phrases that include "I love you", "Let's walk together", "You look worried. Are you okay?", "For your kids", "Tomorrow's sun will rise", "Did you eat anything?", "Go see the one you miss", "The best has yet to come", "How would you like to be remembered as a father?", "So many things have yet to happen", and "Your mom". There's also a statue of two friends called "Just Once Again", pictures of smiling faces, families and general happiness.

These messages were carefully curated by a team of psychologists and suicide prevention specialists, and the effort seems to be paying off. The Seoul City government says suicides on the bridge have dropped by a whopping 77 percent since the changes were made, and the bridge has now become a popular tourist attraction. Similar actions are being planned for other spans in the area.

See how the bridge was designed and how it operates in the video below.


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  • 53 Comments
      Morris Marina
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a strange topic for Autoblog. But let's try and be sensitive. No matter how we feel about suicide personally, it's no light-hearted matter for those touched by it.
      Psylah Chesnokov
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Your Mom". DON'T BRING MY MOTHER INTO THIS, BRIDGE.
      Cory Stansbury
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm impressed, surprised, and pleased to see that the effort has worked.
      360_AD
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ridiculous. Want to curb suicides? Teach people to abandon their unrealistic expectations of life, marriage, family and material wealth. Everything society or culture says that you should have by age 35 is all bullshit.
      michigan
      • 1 Year Ago
      This has nothing to do with cars
      eyhkeyhk
      • 1 Year Ago
      Before people question why the question "Did you eat anything?" is up there, no, it's not a Snickers moment commercial (which would probably cause quite a sensational PR uproar). It's synonymous with "How are you?" in Korea. I'm not sure of the exact origin of the phrase, I've heard several, but most of them have a common theme of extreme famine and the concern of one's well being directly related to whether or not they had anything to eat that day.
        Snaisa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @eyhkeyhk
        Also it can relate to Italian culture of offering food to a family or guest. Reference: Sopranos when Tony's mom always offers him food.
      Buckingham's
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now,....if they could only do that with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
      Alex Ellsworth
      • 1 Year Ago
      I read some interesting research about suicides in the New York Times a while back, with bridge jumpers as a specific example. One would think that people determined to kill themselves will find a way somehow or another, but the research on survivors showed that it was often an impulse that they regretted halfway down, and apparently a passing one - making railings just slightly harder to climb over had the effect of massively reducing deaths. And in the case where there were two bridges side by side, one famous for jumpers and one not, those thwarted by the slightly higher railings did not simply walk over to the other bridge; people were apparently visualizing a particular way of doing it, and with that thwarted, they went home. A case in point was a would-be jumper picked up after becoming stranded in the middle of I think the Golden Gate Bridge who was "afraid of being run over" on his way to commit suicide. Interesting.
      Gordon Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm surprised these worked. I would have thought they would make people more depressed and angry
        360_AD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gordon Chen
        Propaganda. No way for any of us to verify the supposed decline.
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe strippers would help out the statistics, but increase traffic accidents Im sure. Glad they found something that helps.
      Mike Roberts
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hello everyone and hope everyone is doing well! Mike
      Myles Boch
      • 1 Year Ago
      the U.S. Army needs to take this and run with it
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