The bridges, designed and built to provide a passage, often become a way between life and death. High constructions spanning across valleys, rivers and large bodies of waters, draw those who lost their hope. Such fatal places where many decided to took their lives acquired a notorious nickname “ the suicide bridge”.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
Sad statistics: 1,500 deaths, approximately 30 suicides per year
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the USA, is the most popular suicide destination in the world. It was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937. It connects the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County.
An icon of the city has also become a Mecca for those who want to end their lives. People have been known to travel to San Francisco specifically to jump off the bridge as approximately 75 m (245 feet) above the water is high enough for 98% falls to be fatal.
According to unofficial estimates around 1,500 people jumped into the water from the bridge’s deck.
In 2006 Eric Steel , a filmmaker, released its controversial documentary The Bridge , in which he captured a number of suicide jumps and thwarted attempts.
See an interview with a provocative director Eric Steel.
2. The Clifton Suspension Bridge
Sad statistics: 1,000 deaths, approximately 4 suicides per year after new barriers added in 1998
The Clifton Suspension Bridge, spanning the beautiful Avon Gorge, in Bristol, UK, was opened in 1864 and designed for light horse drawn traffic. It still meets the demands of 21st century commuter traffic with 11-12,000 motor vehicles crossing it every day. Unfortunately since its earliest days the bridge has also been attracting those deprived of hope.
Around 1000 people lost their lives jumping into the water. Among those unfortunate souls was one lucky one – In 1885, a 22-year-old woman named Sarah Ann Henley survived a fall from the bridge when her billowing skirts acted as a parachute, and subsequently lived into her eighties.
3. The Aurora Bridge
Sad statistics: over 230 deaths
The Aurora Bridge, in Seattle, Washington, 51m (167 ft) above the water, is the second deadliest suicide bridge in the USA. The first suicide occurred in January 1932 before the construction was completed. Since its opening in February 1932, there have been 230 suicide falls. In December 2006, six emergency phones and 18 signs were installed on the bridge to encourage people to seek help instead of jumping.
4. The Nanjing Bridge
Sad statistics: about 1,000 deaths (unofficial records)
The Nanjing Bridge over the Yangtze in China is a national symbol for Chinese. After the withdrawal of Soviet experts, following the Sino-Soviet Split, China was thought to be unable to build a bridge on such a scale without outside support. The project was undertaken to prove that Chinese engineers were able to overcome this perceived lack of ability. Unfortunately the bridge also gained a fatal fame of a suicide spot as up to 1,000 people are believed to have died by jumping off it since its completion in 1968.
However in 2004 one local man began voluntarily patrolling this fatal spot and has persuaded dozens of people not to kill themselves. Chen Si patrolled the bridge over the weekends when he did not have to go to work. He talked to people who seemed depressed. His message was simple "You only have one life, please give yourself a chance. The sun is bound to shine brighter tomorrow”. The BBC reported the story in 2005, but I hope that the man or others like him are still around.
5. Netty Jetty Bridge
Sad statistics: about 1,000 deaths (unofficial records)
According to unofficial statistics, around 200 people jumped from 100-year-old Netty Jetty Bridge in Karachi, Pakistan. The grinding poverty, impatience and intolerance in society are seen as some of the main reasons behind the growing number of suicides in the country. A recent government study found that 4 people in Pakistan commit suicide every day.
6. The Nusle Bridge
Sad statistics: about 300 deaths
Another magnet for suicides is Nusle Bridge or Nuselsky Most in Prague opened in 1973. The extraordinary structure with metro line inside and six-lane highway on a surface has also become a spot for despaired people. There are no official statistics but the number of deaths is estimated at 300 men.
Recently new barriers have been constructed along the length of the bridge in order to lessen the number of incidents. The new system has been tested by experienced rock climbers that couldn’t get over the barriers.
7. The Coronado Bridge
Sad statistics: about 200 deaths
The San Diego-Coronado Bridge, locally referred to as the Coronado Bridge, is
crossing over San Diego Bay in the United States, linking San Diego, California with Coronado, California. It is the third deadliest suicide bridge in the USA. Between 1972 and 2000, more than 200 suicides were committed on the bridge. Hard to believe when you look at this romantic shot above.
8. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Sad statistics: about 100 deaths
Another unfortunate bridge is Sunshine Skyway, spanning Florida’s Tampa Bay. Around 100 people have committed suicide by jumping from the center span into the waters of Tampa Bay since the opening of the new bridge in 1987 and many more have tried. In fact the number can be much higher. The local authorities have installed six crisis phones and began 24-hour patrols but the total number of jumpers has not significantly declined since the introduction of these safeguards.
9.The Prince Edward Viaduct
Sad statistics: over 400 deaths, zero since the construction of Luminous Veil barrier
When opened in 1918 in Toronto no one thought this majestic construction will become the popular suicide spot. With over 400 suicides, the Viaduct ranked as the second most fatal standing structure in the world, after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. At its peak in 1997, the suicide rate averaged one person every 22 days.
This prompted the construction of a suicide barrier called the Luminous Veil . The construction was completed in 2003 and cost $5.5 million. It is built of 9,000 rods, each 5 metres tall. It spaced 12.7 cm (5 inches) apart and held in place by steel frame. There was no suicide since the construction of the barrier, however, it is not known whether the suicide rate at other bridges in the city has risen, nor whether overall suicide rates have dropped in the city as a direct result of this structure.
10. The Jacques Cartier Bridge
Sad statistics: about 140 deaths, approximately 10 suicides per year before new barriers installed in 2004.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge is crossing the Saint Lawrence River in from Montreal Island, Montreal, Quebec to the south shore at Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. There are approximately 35.4 million vehicle crossings annually, making it the second busiest bridge in Canada. Unfortunately It is also the second busiest bridge in terms of suicides committed in the country.
In 2004, a suicide prevention barrier was installed. Until then the bridge saw an average of 10 suicides a year.