ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

So you're on vacation. You've checked into your hotel, tried a bit of the local cuisine, and now you're just about ready to join the seemingly never-ending line of tourists at the city's most notable tourist attraction.

Many of these places are now instantly recognizable to even the most poorly travelled eyes, with some of them have even become the symbols of the cities they inhabit. However, many also hide a dark secret. Famous sights and tourist attractions are often also 'favorite' locations of the suicidal, so although they've often provided the backdrop for family snaps, they're also the backdrop of something much more tragic.

1. The Eiffel Tower

As one of the most famous tourist attractions in Europe, the Eiffel Tower goes through around 7 million visitors a year. However, since its opening in 1889, the 1,063 ft tall tower has also seen 349 successful suicide attempts. Although many of them do jump from high up on the tower, hangings are also not uncommon. In more recent years, cages have been added to the main observation decks to prevent suicides. On a brighter note, one story tells of a woman who jumped, but was caught by a gust of wind and then landed on the roof of a car - breaking her fall. The story goes on to claim she then married the man driving the car, although this could all be an urban legend.

2. The Hollywood Sign

Although not a common location for the suicidal, the giant Hollywood sign has seen at least one disturbing death. In 1932, Peg Entwistle was an actress trying to make it in Hollywood. However, tired of rejection and bad reviews she decided to commit suicide by jumping from the fifty-foot tall 'H' of the famous Griffith Park sign. Unfortunately, it seems she wasn't killed instantly, as the coroners report stated she died from multiple fractures and breaks in the pelvis. Her body was only found after two days.

3. The Empire State Building

One of the defining features of New York, The Empire State Building has also been home to over 30 successful, and several unsuccessful, suicide attempts over the years. One of the most famous of the latter involves a woman, Elvita Adams, who leapt from the 86th floor in 1979, only to be caught by the wind and returned to the 85th floor. She survived, but suffered a broken hip.

4. The Statue of Liberty

Despite being perhaps New York's most famous tourist attraction, the Statue of Liberty has only seen two suicides in its history. The first occurred on May 13, 1929 when Ralph Gleason climbed out of one of the crown's windows before appearing to change his mind and trying to climb back in. However, witnesses said he then slipped, bounced off the statue's breast and fell to the ground. Another man, Elhajo Malick Dieye also jumped from the statue in 1997.

5. The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is second most popular place in the world to commit suicide - following the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China. More than 1,500 people have jumped from the bridge into the Golden Gate Strait, although not all of them are killed straight away. Those who jump fall for around 4 seconds before hitting the water at 75 mph. Those who are not killed by the impact (about 5% of jumpers) generally die of drowning or hypothermia. Despite this, 26 of those who have jumped survived the fall and managed to swim to safety. Suicides have become such a problem on the bridge that special phones have now been installed.

6. Colorado National Monument

The Colorado National Monument sees around 15 people a year attempting to commit suicide, although the majority are prevented by park rangers. However, it also saw an extraordinarily lucky escape for Daniel J. Lyons. In 2009, Lyons drove his van off a cliff in the national park in an attempt to kill himself, however his van became stuck on a pillar of rock and remained there. With nowhere else to go, he was forced to call the police and be rescued. Unfortunately for him, he was arrested after recovering in hospital as he was wanted for sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl.

7. Aokigahara Forest, Japan

The 14-square-mile forest at the base of Mount Fuji is nominally known as the Sea of Trees, although recently it has taken on a more morbid moniker: Suicide Forest. Aokigahara is quite possibly the most popular location in Japan for suicides, with around 50-100 of them each year. The dense forest means finding bodies is hard, and every year police and volunteers must scour the area to uncover those who have committed suicide. Aokigahara reportedly became widely known as a suicide spot after appearing in the Japanese novel Kuroi Jukai, the story of which involves two lovers killing themselves in the famously silent forest.


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