Truthfulness of the Shopping Mall Suicide on Discount, Disbelief Half Off

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The Daily Mail Online knows a good story. The Daily Mail is so full of tales that there aren’t any option for heads to be made. The Daily Mail is so full of yarns that pop-tart millennials will grow back their shaven woolen muffs upon a quick appraisal. And so it was with the recent reporting of a man in Xuzhou who took his life by jumping from the upper floor of a shopping mall. As this is the Daily Mail, you know for sure that this man didn’t kill himself for boring reasons.

As it knows we are all loathe to bring ourselves to read the actual story, the Daily Mail has made it convenient for its readers to fully understand the tragedy of “shop ’til you drop” through three simple bullet points:

  • Tao Hsiao was shopping with his girlfriend in Jiangsu province, east China
  • After five hours Tao finally had enough and demanded to go home
  • When she insisted they go into another shop the 38-year-old chucked the bags to the floor and jumped over the balcony

Suicide from jumping from the upper floor of a shopping mall is an occurence that doesn’t happen rarely in China (* see note below) and would be a better story if only the Chinese media could fully reverse engineer the other-worldly word-smithing performed by British tabloids. But there was one time in which the Chinese media used the topic of “shopping mall suicide” to top form as befitting a tabloid rag despite being bereft of a page 3 girl or a mute royal family that you flog like a gift horse with a mouth you never inspect.

A sensational case from 2008 had insinuated that a “pair of lovers” committed suicide together by jumping from the top of Grand Gateway mall, but that rumor was quashed when it was revealed that the male victim depicted in the gruesome photos circulated online was from another suicide at the same mall several years prior. But that was just once, and doesn’t count last week when a foreigner went from being labelled a victim of an extortion to being blamed for an accident, or when a teacher was falsely accused of extorting his students for kisses.

Your tentative nature will not bring you good stories, Chinese media. The reason given by the Chinese media when reported first on December 8 for the suicide is interesting, but not sensational:

The reason given for this is that the man objected to the high cost of the purchases made by his girlfriend; this led to an argument, and in a fit of rage the man jumped to his death.

You have to personalize it – these people must have motivations and characters of their own. They must leap off the page, like how the Daily Mail writes it:

Eyewitnesses say he could be heard saying they already had more bags than they could carry, but she insisted on going into one more shop where the was a special offer on shoes.

Eyewitnesses are very important to a news story. They lend credibility and truthfulness. They make the story much more easier to familiarize with. The Daily Mail gives us some choice quotes:

An eyewitness said: ‘He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a 
lifetime and it was pointless buying any more. 

‘She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument.’

So never mind that the eyewitness is unnamed, or that this quote can’t be found anywhere in the Chinese news. Instead, this is the one eyewitness account provided:

Miss Li, who sells cosmetics on the first floor of the shopping mall, hasn’t been able to stop shaking after the incident. “Today is the weekend and there are many customers. At the time I was introducing some cosmetic products to some customers when I heard a “bang”; that’s when someone called out that someone had jumped down from above. I turned around and I saw a man lying on the ground, motionless.”

Chinese reporters are very busy; the reporter for this story was simply too busy describing the scene from whence the victim jumped and to where he landed. To explain where eyewitness come from that claim the man killed himself due to the high cost of his girlfriend’s purchases, the news story explains it very clearly:

Weibo Netizens Say Man Who Jumped from Xuzhou Golden Eagle Mall Was Forced By Girlfriend

In this day and age, who has time to stick around to speak to police and reporters? And there’s no reason to interview any of the bystanders who have gathered around the victim’s body – as they didn’t see anything, clearly, they’re just there to look at a dead body.

Chinese media have a lot to learn from British tabloids who are amazing at bringing forth a good story. Shopping for “five continuous hours” is a nice little detail, and you have to be courageous of being refuted by such reported facts that suggest this man was only in the mall for thirty minutes:

…Public Security Bureau for Gulou, Xuzhou is investigating the closed circuit security camera used for the mall. An on-the-spot appraisal confirms that at around 3 PM on December 7, a man around 40 years of age entered the mall from a south entrance and went straight for the seventh floor guardrail; the man crossed over the guardrail and jumped down, dying at the scene.

As with any good story, there must be a hero involved, and the only way to identify with a hero is for him to have a name. The Daily Mail knows how to promote a good story, because you can’t let something like the absence of facts get in the way:

The identity of the deceased has not yet been verified; would family members and people who personally know the man please get in touch with the Public Security Bureau!

In fact, the Chinese media would come to get a little snippy with the British tabloid:

Although the Daily Mail has named this man to be “Tao Hsiao”, police have still not yet verified if this man is surnamed “Xiao” (萧). Instead, police have temporarily kept the identity of this man a mystery.

Such belligerence to even suggest that modern Chinese people don’t all identify themselves by using names written in an archaic romanization system. However, Chinese media completely make up for this slight by revising their own news story and crediting the Daily News as a credible news source:

Because of the strange events that have transpired, even the Daily Mail of the UK has covered this news substantially.

So now, finally, the previous oversight of not having any eyewitnesses in the Chinese article can be corrected by quoting the eyewitnesses referenced in the Daily Mail article:

The two people would raise their tone with each other, and the man would criticize her by saying, “You have more shoes than you can wear for the rest of your life, and yet you still want to keep browsing in shoe stores?” The girlfriend would retort in reply, “You cheapskate, you have ruined the Christmas atmosphere!”

Christmas, ruined: the new Chinese holiday in which Chinese walk around a mall buying things in the absence of any references to Jesus Christ, Christmas cheer or excluding Jews from your festivities. The shame.

In spite of all these obstacles, the Daily Mail Online was able to bring a good story to the public. This man didn’t die due to mental problems, family problems or any other reasons as may have been cited in the other shopping mall suicides. Because that would be so boring, and you deserve more than that. And this the tabloids know.

***

* Some recent reported suicides in China involving a shopping mall:

  • On June 18, 2005    , a man diagnosed with clinical depression jumped from the fifth floor of a large shopping mall in Chengdu after making his purchases.
  • On January 2, 2006, a man killed himself after jumping from the fourth floor of a Shenyang shopping mall.
  • On May 7, 2008, a sales assistant working at the Grand Gateway mall in Xujiahui, Shanghai leapt to her death from the sixth floor; eyewitnesses say that she was carrying an LV bag with her at the time.
  • On the morning of June 20, 2010, a young man leapt from the third floor of a shopping mall to his death in the downtown area in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province.
  • In the morning of September 20, 2010, a twenty year-old woman committed suicide by jumping from a gym located on the seventh floor of Raffles City in Shanghai.
  • On July 31 of this year, a 55 year-old man plummeted to his death to the pedestrian path below after jumping from a shopping mall roof in Mongkok, Hong Kong.
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