China’s Dramatic Suicide Rescues (PHOTOS)

From a distraught jilted bride to would-be jumpers on rooftops, see photos of those who were talked down.

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Among the highest in the world, China’s suicide rate is a source of growing concern for health organizations inside and outside the country. The country has 21 percent of the world’s population but is responsible for between 30 percent and 40 percent of the world’s suicides—totaling more than 287,000 deaths each year. A further 2 million try to commit suicide each year, and a staggering number of these attempts are by women, young people, and those living in rural areas. According to the 2010 Human Rights Report on China, suicide rates among women were three to four times higher than among men, with approximately 500 women committing suicide in 2009 each day. Suicide today remains the No. 1 cause of death among young people in the country and the fourth-highest cause of death among all age groups.

But things have begun to look up. Efforts by both the Chinese government and other health organizations have contributed to a 15 percent drop in suicides since the early ’90s, China’s state press agency, Xinhua, reported last year. In addition to more women relocating to urban areas, where suicide rates are lower, a 24-hour suicide hotline has been set up, better attention has been paid to treating mental illnesses, and more recently, an increasing number of people about to attempt suicide have been rescued. In this picture, a man threatening suicide is moved inside after a team distracts him with a loudspeaker. See photos of more rescues.

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A woman agrees to let a rescue team prevent her from falling by tying her to the building in Xian, Shaanxi Province, on Aug. 5, 2011.

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After hours-long negotiations, a man who said he was heavily in debt is pushed by a passer-by from a ledge onto an inflated air cushion in Guangzhouonto on May 21, 2009.

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A woman contemplating suicide is pulled inside by a team of rescuers in a high-rise office and residential building in Beijing on Aug. 5, 2011

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A group of policemen successfully persuade a young Chinese man not to jump from a building in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on March 18, 2005. Suicide is the leading cause of death for citizens between the ages of 15 to 34.

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A police officer moves to grab a woman threatening to jump from her residential rooftop in Xian on July 14, 2005.

A woman threatening suicide after parting with her boyfriend is rescued by a fireman atop the Yanan Branch Hospital in Yunnan province on Aug. 11, 2005.

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A group of firefighters try to calm a man standing on top of a building in Beijing on Dec. 6, 2005.

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A Chinese firefighter attempts to stop a suicidal father after saving his 2-year-old daughter in Chengdu on July 7, 2009.

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Residents try to coax down an elderly man who climbed a billboard in an attempt to kill himself in Beijing on May 17, 2011.

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A woman in her wedding gown is pulled to safety in Changchun on May 17, 2011, after her fiancé refused to go through with plans for their wedding. Suicide attempts by women in China have traditionally been higher than those of men.