CCTV on Han River Bridges to Prevent Suicides

A surveillance camera is installed on Mapo Bridge in Seoul on Thursday. /Yonhap A surveillance camera is installed on Mapo Bridge in Seoul on Thursday. /Yonhap

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is installing surveillance cameras and other electronic equipment on 25 bridges across the Han River to prevent people from jumping off them to their death.

Already 16 poles with surveillance cameras, heat-detecting sensors, emergency bells and phones were installed on Thursday on Mapo and Seogang bridges, for trial operations that will continue until March.

The heat sensors alert rescue officials if a pedestrian or car stops on one of the bridges and idles for an extended period. Rescuers can reach the Han River within three minutes.

The trial is to show the behavioral patterns of people attempting suicide before the devices are installed on all 25 bridges that cross the Han River.

Seoul city officials originally mulled installing nets and transparent shields on the rails of bridges to prevent suicides. But those ideas raised safety concerns, while others said such measures could end up making the bridges look awkward.

From 2003 to 2011, there were 1,377 suicide attempts on Han River bridges, according to Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters. The annual rate rose from 57 in 2003 to 196 in 2011.

Mapo Bridge had the most suicide attempts with 171 from 2003 to 2011, followed by Han River Bridge with 138.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 11, 2013 10:51 KST