According to the World Helth Organisation (WHO), one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds, and the rates are predicted to double by 2020. Jumping off towers and bridges into water is quite a common choice for suicides. It is, however, a harrowing and tragic way to die since the jumpers end up with broken limbs and ruptured internal organs before drowning to death. Suicide spots range from mountains to monuments like the Eiffel tower and the statue of liberty to iconic bridges famous for their beautiful architectural designs. In as much as barriers are being put up on bridges to reduce suicides, there is no single solution to suicide. Prevention involves a collaboration of several measures. A study conducted on the suicide reduction suggested that the erection of a barrier at the Blood viaduct bridge led to increased suicides on other bridges. This leads to the question of whether suicide barriers prevent suicides or troubled individuals simply find alternative locations. With Japan’s Mount Mihara on the lead, let’s take a look at some of the top 10 suicide magnets around the globe.
1 Mount Mihara
Mount Mihara is an active volcano on the island of Izu Oshima in Japan. Its iconic volcanic characteristics have made it one of Japan’s most famous tourist destinations. For a long time, it has been known as one of Japan’s most common suicide destinations. In 1933, a Kiyoko Matsumoto committed suicide as a romantic gesture to profess her love for her lesbian lover. Kiyoko’s incident got a lot of publicity from the press and inspired quite several copycat suicides causing a suicide epidemic. In that year, up to 944 people committed suicide on the volcano. Security has however been enhanced on the mountain to reduce suicide incidences and additionally a ban on the purchase of one-way tickets to the island was also affected. This has, however, not stopped determined individuals from committing suicide on the island.
2 Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
With over 2000 suicides recorded since its construction in 1968, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China is the most used suicide spot and China’s most famous bridge. The bridge was once a symbol of China’s industrial power is now known to be a place where suicidal individuals seek relief. The number of suicides on the bridge has given rise to debates on whether and how the Chinese government should respond to the issue. 51-year old Chen Si spends his weekends on the bridge patrolling trying to convince suicidal individuals not to take the jump. He has managed to talk over 300 people out of jumping and sometimes catching them right after they jump off the bridge. Despite his efforts, sometimes the victims still jump off the bridge after he saves them while he is not looking.
3 The Golden Gate Bridge
The golden gate bridge was the most used suicide spot in the united states in 2014 with 46 suicides in the previous year. Over 1700 people have jumped off the bridge since it was opened in 1937, making it the world’s second most popular suicide site. After a long debate, a $20 million barrier set to be completed in 2021 is under construction to prevent more suicide attempts on the bridge. The suicide net will extend 20 feet out on both sides of the bridge, preventing jumpers from reaching the water. The aim of most suicidal individuals is usually quick death rather than sustaining injuries; thus, the net is expected to serve its purpose.
4 Nusle Bridge
Being one of the Czech’s republic’s most notable landmarks, linking the city center to the southwestern suburbs, the Nusle bridge has had its fair share of tragedies. It is a common suicide spot for most troubled individuals recording up to 300 deaths since it was opened in 1973, making it a suicide bridge. In 1997 tall chain-link fence railings were put up on the bridge along the sidewalks and additions made in 2007 to further prevent more deaths. The move has seen the number of suicides of the bridge drop. Award-winning artist, Kristof Kintera, has devised a sculpture of a street lamp whose light shines upwards contrary to ordinary street lamps. The statue will be placed on the bridge to commemorate the lives lost so far.
5 Humber Bridge
Located in Northern England, it is the world’s fifth-largest bridge. Suicides are quite a common event on the Humber bridge. More than 200 people have jumped off the bridge since it was opened in 1981 with the most recent suicide happening in 2018. Two men tragically jumped off the Humber bridge in December 2018 within minutes of the other. Surprisingly, the two men did not know each other. One of the men, a 24-year old, was said to have been battling mental health problems for eight years before he decided to end his life. There are proposals for building barriers on the bridge to solve the suicide problem. This is, however, still under debate. For now, the residents depend on good Samaritans to convince suicides not to jump off the bridge. Unfortunately, this has not been effective. Hopefully, safer bridges will be built in the future.
6 Prince Edward Viaduct
The 100-year old double-decked arch bridge is commonly referred to as the Bloor Viaduct. The frequency of suicides on the bridge was almost close to those at the golden gate bridge until a barrier was put up. A total of 500 suicides were recorded before the barrier was erected in 2003. Since the erection of the barrier, there had not been a single suicide up until 2014 when a man tried to jump off the bridge. The man seemed to be entirely decided on jumping; thus, the police wrestled him as he tried to break their grip and end his life.
7 Erskine Bridge
The Erskine bridge in Scotland has been a suicide blackspot for quite a long time. Seventy-three people committed suicide on the bridge in 2010 while 36 people committed suicide on the bridge in 2012. The statistics are, however, may not be accurate since only those seen by the lifeguard or pedestrians are reported. A body was found washed up under the bridge in 2013. In 2012 two teenage girls jumped off the bridge together in an apparent suicide pact that could have supposedly been prevented by their guardians at the care home where they were both living. Barriers have since been put up on the bridge to prevent suicides and suicide helpline numbers posted at pedestrian entry points on the bridge.
8 London Underground
As scary as it sounds, jumping in front of a train seems to be quite a common occurrence on the London underground. ‘The Tube’ as it is commonly known, gets its fame from being the first underground rail network in the world and a popular suicide site. Of the 194 train track suicides in the U.K., 50 of them happened on the Tube in 2007. Cases of people jumping in front of trains at the station were on the rise until recently. The suicide intervention program by the train station staff has seen the number of suicide attempts drop in 2019, for the first time in five years. The program seeks to train staff to be more responsive and sympathetic to vulnerable passengers and eventually increaser the rate of successful interventions.
9 Niagra Falls
Niagra falls attract millions of tourists from all over the world who simply come to gaze at its natural beauty. People travel to the Niagra falls to attempt dangerous stunts in a bid set world records and end up dying in tragically in the falls. Some, however, take it a step further by attempting suicide. Presumably, the water has a hypnotic pull that draws you to it, suggesting that most of the people who commit suicide at the falls had no intention of doing it before they got there. About 20-40 people commit suicide at the falls each year. Recent reports say that the chances of surviving a jump at Niagra are on the rise. Suicides at the Niagra falls are, however, not publicized by the police; thus, the exact number of deaths remains a mystery.
10 Van Stadens Bridge
Towering over the Gamtoos River in South Africa, the 417 feet high bridge is one of the world’s most frequented suicide spots. Just 12 days after it was opened, a man jumped from the bridge and died. It now called the “Bridge of Death.” The Cross of Hope was erected at the bridge with a sign saying “Jesus loves you” to give suicidal individuals hope in Jesus and hopefully reduce the frequency of suicide attempts. These efforts bore fruit in 2018 when a suicidal man from Port Elizabeth changed his mind after noticing the cross of hope while he was about to jump off the bridge. A 2.7m high pedestrian barrier was, however, constructed in 2013 to prevent suicide cases on the bridge.