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Guangzhou man gives hope to suicidal people
Latest Updated by 2007-05-15 11:57:47
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A man who has coaxed more than 200 people back from the verge of suicide has said that his cell phone is always with him in case his help is ever needed.

Zhao Guangjun first published his phone number in a local newspaper at the end of 2004, inviting anyone who was feeling suicidal to call him. Since then it has become known as a "life hotline".

"I can't ever miss a call," Zhao said. "Someone who is struggling for their life might need my help at any time."

The 30-year-old real estate agent first got involved in helping others in 2000, when he joined Guangzhou's volunteer association, which provides a range of free services to people in need in South China's Guangdong Province.

Over the past seven years, Zhao said he has spent thousands of hours and almost all of his savings some 130,000 yuan (about $17,000) working as a volunteer.

Indeed, it was only hours after Zhao first publicized his phone number that he was called on for help.

It was 2 am and a depressed man said he was deeply hurt and wanted to kill himself. But before he did, he planned to kill some strangers with a shotgun to vent his rage.

In a bid to calm the man, Zhao patiently listened to his story. Twenty-six hours later, he succeeded in talking him out of his murderous and suicidal plan.

However, that was not the longest call Zhao has ever had to deal with. His record is three days, during which time he was unable to eat or sleep.

"Sometimes whether a person lives or dies is just a matter of time. If a suicidal person feels that someone is there to listen to them or be with them, they can often overcome their feelings. That's the role I play," Zhao said.

Although he has no special qualifications or training, Zhao said he manages to talk people out of committing suicide by sharing life experiences and even recalling his own painful stories.

After graduating from junior high school, Zhao went through a bad patch in his life, becoming part of a gang that was involved in illegal activities. When a close friend killed himself in 1998, Zhao took it badly, but realised that it was time for him to turn his own life around.

Not that life has been easy since he opened up the hotline.

His girlfriend of almost three years left him after saying he was always too busy and too poor, and the stress of his life has led to him putting on a lot of weight.

"I have had some bitter experiences so I can understand why people want to end their lives. They need love, friendship and care. I think it is my responsibility to show them those things," Zhao said.

"I don't want anybody else to lose their money, health or a loved one as I have. But I truly believe that if everyone had the heart to be a volunteer, the world would be more beautiful place," he said.

Today, more than 20 people have joined Zhao in his voluntary work and a celebration was held recently in Guangzhou to mark his efforts in helping suicidal and troubled youths.

Editor: Yan

By: Chen Hong Source: China Daily Website
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