Fishing Bodies From The River Is A Real Job In China

“The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men. As far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.” —G. K. Chesterton

In A Nutshell

China has emerged as one of the suicide capitals of the world. Many choose to kill themselves by leaping into rivers. It has become such a problem that there are now people who are employed as “body fishers,” dragging corpses back to shore to be recovered by grieving family members.

The Whole Bushel

China has one of the highest suicide rates in the world; according to the China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, well over 250,000 people take their own lives there annually, many of them women. It is estimated that 26 percent of all the world’s suicides happen in China.

So many kill themselves that a chilling cottage industry has sprung up, a career of “body fishing”—prowling the Yellow River in search of floating corpses, which are then recovered and sold back to grief-stricken families for a tidy profit. Most of the victims are swept downstream from the city of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in Northwest China. It is suggested that while some of these bodies come from murders and accidental flood drownings, some 85 percent are the result of suicide.

It is a sad and ugly business; body fishers keep their catch submerged to keep the face from rotting. It is much easier to make a profit when relatives can positively identify their loved ones. Wei Zhijun, a body fisher who earned the nickname of the “Yellow River Ghost Man,” makes a tidy profit practicing his macabre craft, claiming that during the summer flood season, he has found 20 bodies in a single day. Most times, the corpses are snagged up in other garbage in the river; if they make it far enough downstream, they are sucked into the turbines of dams and gruesomely dismembered.

According to statistics posted by the Lanzhou city water station, around 30 percent of the victims go unclaimed. After around three weeks, the body fishers will untie their “catch” and allow it to drift away. Perhaps most disturbingly of all, the Yellow River serves as a source of drinking water.

Of course, the problem isn’t limited to the Yellow River; in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is a popular place to leap from, so much so that at least one Good Samaritan has made it his life’s mission to patrol the length of the bridge, trying to save distraught jumpers.

Show Me The Proof

Body fishing is a thriving business in China
Man devotes life to thwarting suicide attempts, rehabilitating
Counting The Floating Dead Of The Yellow River

  • Lyon

    Short and sweet
    I feel informed



      • Lyon

        U mad bra?

        • FURRY LION


          • Lyon

            Have a nice day then

    • Cedrik Thibert

      Great place…

  • Steve W

    “Most times, the corpses are snagged up in other garbage in the river;”

    So, you are saying that a dead human being is the same as “other garbage?” That’s pretty cold…

    • Steve W

      Why the thumbs down? It’s a simple oversight on the author’s part in his wording. “Most times, the corpses become entangled in garbage in the river.” I would have said it that way. Instead, the author seems to equate the corpses of dead human beings with garbage floating in a river. They are not garbage, but people. I’m not saying it wasn’t an informative article. I was just simply stating that particular sentence could be misconstrued.

      Am I getting the thumbs down because I pointed out an error and therefore look like a douchebag? Or are you people giving me the thumbs down because Chinese people are no better than garbage?

    • Cedrik Thibert

      Welcome to China…

  • g.g.palin

    I’ve always loved fishing

    • Cedrik Thibert

      Go ahead.. all yours…

  • sweatynumbthumb

    26% is about normal compared to China’s Global Population.

    • Robert Downey

      That what i thought as well. After some google action it seem like they have about 19-20% of the global population by official figures.

  • rhijulbec

    How tragic.

    • Cedrik Thibert

      It’s fishy…

  • Cedrik Thibert

    Fishy business..