Update 27 October 2013
Apparently Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge has seen even more suicides: about 2,000, with The Golden Gate Bridge a close second at more than 1,600.
11 September 2006
It is probably the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. The distance between the two towers is more than 1km.
I don’t think its creator, Joseph Strauss ever wanted this “honour.”
Since its opening on 27th May 1937, there has been about 1,300 deaths.
That’s about 19 in a year, or almost two a month.
The most popular year was in 1977 where 40 people jumped. That’s almost one every week.
Some macabre trivia:
- if you jump off the middle of the bridge, which is about 250 feet above, it would take you 4 seconds to hit the water at 120km/h. That is like being hit by a speeding truck. Of course that means almost certain death. In fact, 98% of jumpers die.
- the guard rail is only 4 feet high. No wonder anybody could do it. Barriers were not put up due to a myriad of reasons, including of course cost and the argument that “if you put up barriers, people will simply go elsewhere to die” . Let me put it this way, even the feasibility study proposed in 2005 alone costs USD2 million. Just a study!
- men outnumber the women 3 to 1.
- most are locals – that means it’s not true that people fly here from the woeld over just to kill themselves.
- youngest to die: 14
- oldest to die: 85
- average age: 41
- most don’t leave suicide notes, but for those who did, some are downright silly, like this one: “nothing wrong, only a toothache.”
- Cause of death is either “extensive internal injuries” or “drowned in their own blood.”
- there have only been around 26 survivors. All hit the water feet first and suffered broken legs and internal injuries. Ouch.
- most of the jumpers are men wearing suits.
- many jumpers *do* want to be dissuaded from jumping. In one case, a police officer told one would-be jumper: “if you jump, I will shoot you.” He did not jump.
- the most popular spot on the bridge to jump from is at lamppost no 69. There are a total of 128 lampposts.
- most people jumped facing the city rather than the ocean. “Attention whores to the last” some people would say.
- there are also many fake suicides, like Chris C, who turned up a year later in Houston selling bibles.
- the first to die jumped less than 3 months after the bridge’s inauguration. His name is Harold Wobber, WWI vet. He turned to a stranger on the walkway, said “this is as far as I go” – then took his last step
- the only person to have jumped twice off the bridge is Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum in 1988. She survived the first jump, did not give up, and was “successful” on the second.
- The most famous person to have jumped off is Roy Raymond, Victoria’s Secret clothing chain (most famous for its lingerie) founder. He founded the company in the 70s but killed himself in 1993 after “failing to start new businesses.”
- The most misguided person was the one who jumped because he did not make it to Columbia Law School, only Stanford.
- The dumbest person is Charles G Jr, who jumped 4 days after his father did because “I wanted to keep dad company.”
- The 500th person to jump left a suicide note: “do not notify my mother. She has a heart condition.” But there was no need to tell her – she saw it on the evening news. The 500th suicide had been greatly anticipated. It was like everybody wanted to be the 500th to die. One person even had written the number 500 on his t-shirt. Sheesh. That is like writing “first post” in a blog’s comment section.
The official count stopped in June 1995 as the official number of suicides touched 997. Probably the authorities wanted to stop speculation as to who would be the 1,000th victim. That did not stop Eric Atkinson, 20 to be that person less than a month later.
Hence, it is safe to say that this sign do not make that much of an impact.
This young man was persuaded by a California Highway Patrol officer from taking his own life in early 2005: