Each year, one million people feel so hopeless and despairing that they commit suicide. Many millions more feel the effects of the tragedy. It is the thirteenth leading cause of death in the world and the sixth in the US. In the age range of teens to 35-year-olds, it is the leading cause of death. Some places are especially known for the tragedy and we take a look at some of them here.
5. Humber Bridge, England
The Humber Bridge is the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world but has a much more somber reputation as well. More than 200 people have jumped or fallen from the bridge since 1981 when it opened, including a woman and her son, who had Fragile X syndrome, in 2006. In late 2009, officials decided to construct a suicide barrier on the bridge's walkways.
4. The Gap, Australia
The Gap is one of the world's top suicide spots, with about 50 jumpers a year plunging to their deaths from these beautiful but deadly cliffs. It has been lucky to have "the Guardian of the Gap", 85-year-old Don Ritchie whom we have written about before. Ritchie lives across the road from The Gap and has officially saved more than 160 potential jumpers, and 400 unofficially, by talking to them and bringing them into his home. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his suicide prevention work.
3. Beachy Head, England
With its glorious white chalk cliffs, Beachy Head is a stunning and beautiful spot in the south of England, but is also famous for a much more tragic set of circumstances. As the site of at least 20 suicides a year (though this number is decreasing), a number of steps have been made to stop the needless deaths (and they seem to be working). Twice a day, patrols are made by the Beachy Head Chaplaincy team to try and locate potential jumpers, and there are signs posted displaying the telephone number of The Samaritans urging would-be jumpers to call.
2. Aokigahara Forest, Japan
This ghostly and beautiful forest has an ineffably sad reputation as the second most 'popular' place to commit suicide in the world. Since the 1950s, an average of 30 people a year have committed suicide here, but some recent numbers have been much higher, with 100 the record in 2003. Sadly, many families don't discover what happened to their loved ones until the body search that is conducted by police and volunteers once a year.
1. Golden Gate Bridge, USA
San Francisco's famous bridge has the unenviable record of being the place where more people in the world commit suicide than any other. Official suicide records were up to 1,200 by 2005. Because of the design of the bridge, barriers could cause a safety concern in a strong windstorm so have not been considered an option. In 2008, the government agreed to install a plastic-covered stainless steel net to be positioned below the bridge. Costing 40 to 50 million dollars, it has not been installed yet. Because of the height of the bridge, only 2% of people survive suicide attempts here.
Suicide is a permanent solution for what is a temporary problem in most cases, and the ripple effects of the tragedy are enormous. Family and friends often feel guilty, while the world loses special people who have much to offer if only they can get through their crises.
Below are a number of places to turn to if help is needed:
- A doctor, including an emergency room
- A priest or religious leader you respect and trust
- Suicide hotlines that can be found in every Yellow Pages
- Internet sites offer help such as metanoia.org. You can send an anonymous email as well
- A therapist