Cheil Worldwide tackles suicide issue in Korea with The Bridge of Life, Bridge of Healing

IMG_1257.jpgSouth Korea, one of the most wired countries with dazzling economic growth, has the highest suicide rates amongst OECD member states.

Mapo Bridge, one of 25 over Seoul the capital's river, has become a popular spot for suicide attempts as it has better access to pedestrians. Rumour also has it that it is the closest bridge from Yoido, the country's financial district, so the loss-stricken investors  head straight to the bridge and jump off. Over the past five years, 108 people jumped off the Mapo Bridge and 48 of them died.

In an attempt to prevent such practice, Seoul City has teamed up with Samsung Life Insurance and its advertising agency Cheil Worldwide. The objective was to urge respect for life and re-position Mapo Bridge as a healing place. The bridge is now nicknamed the Bridge of Life.
Life of Bridge 3.jpgThe idea was to create an interactive bridge that would introduce communication and a human touch to change the people's minds, as opposed to installing a physical barrier to end the tragic. First, the team installed sensors on the guardrails, so that when people walked by, lights turned on according to their movements. On the lighted rails appeared short messages, making it seem as if the bridge was speaking to the passers-by. The messages are not warnings or teachings, but rather kind words, comforting song lyrics, and funny jokes - something that would heal the anxious and confused minds. Walking all the way across the bridge, pedestrians keep reading the messages and eventually reach the other end. Some of the words include:

samsungLifeInsurance_BridgeOfLife_resized.jpg"I love you", "Let's walk together", "You look worried. Are you OK?", "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" - all these messages were carefully drafted after consulting with psychologists and suicide-prevention activists.

Life of Bridge.jpgIn the middle of the bridge, there's also an "Image Zone" in which some photos are shown - photos of babies, smiling grandparents, young couples, etc. There is also  a brass statue depicting two friends, one giving consolation to the other. It's called "Just once again" statue, as there's a memo on the back of the statue reading "Hey dude, just think about it once again"

The passers-by can feel as if the lights and words are talking to their hearts. These words are great consolation to some people, telling them to think about their loved ones and brace for life once again.

Mapo Bridge, built in 1970, has witnessed not only Korea's dramatic economic development but also numerous suicide jumpers. It is successfully turning itself into a healing place as well as tourist attraction. After 4 months of operation, the bridge is now nicknamed as the Bridge of Life.

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