Most people have a bucket list of places that they want to travel to before they die. We dream of visiting exotic islands, beautiful cities, natural wonders, and historical landmarks. But what you may not know about some of the places you visit is their background – and what exactly the sites are notorious for.
The places we are looking at today may be stunning to visit and gorgeous to photograph, but they also have a dark side. They are suicide hotspots, places where people go to end their own lives. Traveling to another place to end your own life is known as suicide tourism and this also applies to people who want to end their lives because they are suffering from terminal illness.
Suicide is never the answer. In most of the places we are looking at today, measures have been taken to try and deter people from taking their own lives by offering help to those who need it. We can all take action to help people who are suicidal by knowing the warning signs and taking threats of suicides seriously.
So if you ever get to travel to one of the places on this list keep in mind that many people took their last breath in these locations.
15. Mount Mihara, Japan – Almost 1000 People Jumped In
In 1933 a 21 year old student named Kiyoko Matsumoto took her own life by jumping into the crater of Mount Mihara, an active volcano located on the island of Izu Oshima in Japan. Her suicide started a deadly trend and over the course of the next three years, more than 944 people also leaped into the volcano. To try and stop people taking their own lives authorities restricted access to the highest vantage point, built a fence, and made it illegal to purchase a one-way ticket to the site.
The volcano last erupted in 1990, sending lava fountains up to a mile-high spewing out the top and prompting a total evacuation of the island. Major eruptions tend to occur every 100-150 years at Mount Mihara.
14. West Gate Bridge, Australia – Mother Took Her 18 Mo. Old With Her
At 8,473 feet the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne is the third longest bridge in Australia and also one of the highest at 190 feet. The bridge, which rises up over Westgate Park (a recreational reserve), is one of the busiest roads in Australia, carrying in excess of 200,000 vehicles every day.
According to police data, there is about one suicide every three weeks at West Gate Bridge. In one tragic case, a young mother jumped from the bridge taking her 18 month old baby with her. After a man threw his four-year-old daughter over the bridge in 2009 a temporary barrier was installed, which was converted into a permanent feature later on. There have been a number of cases where police officers trying to prevent jumpers have almost been dragged over the edge themselves, and this barrier will hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.
13. Tehran Metro, Iran – Someone Jumps Every Month
The Tehran Metro, a rapid transit system in Tehran, Iran, is still under construction, but already spans over 110 miles and carries roughly 2 million passengers every day. By the time it’s complete (around 2020) it will have a total length of 270 miles, consisting of 9 lines. The tariffs are reasonable and it has improved the lives of the people of Tehran dramatically.
But sadly, it is also a place where desperate people go to end it all. According to Tehran Metro authorities, at least one successful suicide occurs every month in the subway system. The figures for attempted suicides (people who are rescued before they jump in front of the trains) are not known. Not only is this devastating for the families of the victims and the victims themselves, but also terrifying for other commuters who witness such an event.
12. Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, China – Over 2000 Lives
The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge was once considered to be the most popular suicide site in the world, but it was recently overtaken by the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China. This bridge was constructed in 1968 and since then more than 2000 people have taken their last breaths here before leaping to their deaths. The number of deaths on this bridge may even be higher as many bodies have never been recovered. Also, police in the area do not include people who jumped off the bridge, missed the water and hit the riverbanks, in the total number.
On a slightly less morbid note, police records show that since 2007 up to 200 people have been rescued from the bridge and one local man has single-handedly rescued more than 300 people from the bridge and helped them get the support they need.
11. Sunshine Skyway Bridge, United States – Installed Crisis Hotline Phones Along The Bridge
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge that crosses Tampa Bay is believed to be haunted. That’s not very surprising when you consider that since 1987 more than 200 people have taken their own lives by jumping from the highest span of the bridge. It’s estimated that at least another 50 people have jumped from the bridge and survived.
It’s easy to think that jumping from a height like this into the water would be a quick and painless death, but as Corporal Gary Schluter of the Florida State Highway Patrol explains this is far from true. Hitting the water after the 4-second fall is more like hitting concrete and sometimes the jumpers remain conscious after suffering bone-crushing injuries and slowly drown in the water.
To try and quell the number of suicides at this site the State of Florida installed crisis hotline phones along the bridge in 1999 and began 24-hour patrols, but the total amount of jumpers has not declined in the last 18 years.
10. Aokigahara Forest, Japan – Most Popular Site In Japan, 8 People Every Month
Aokigahara forest located in Mount Fuji, Japan, is a popular tourist destination. The forest is dense and the porous lava ground underfoot absorbs sound, making it the perfect place to find solitude. But the forest has another nickname as well, the Suicide Forest. This is because this forest is the most popular suicide spot in Japan with around 105 suicides a year, roughly 8 every month. Most of the deaths in the forest are caused by intentional hanging or overdose and the bodies are sometimes not found until months later.
There are signs all along the trails urging suicidal visitors to consider their families and contact a suicide prevention group for assistance. It’s not surprising that many consider this forest to be haunted.
9. Golden Gate Bridge, United States – Building Barriers For Prevention
This location needs little introduction. It’s one of the most internationally recognized and photographed structures in the world and has been declared one of the Wonders of The Modern World. And while many people travel long distances to admire the beauty of the 4,200-foot Golden Gate Bridge others go there for a far darker reason…
The Golden Gate Bridge is the second-most used suicide spot in the world, following the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. It was opened in 1937 and to date, almost 1500 people have taken their lives by jumping over the edge and plunging 245 feet into the water. Most of them die from impact trauma while a small portion survive the fall but soon drown or succumb to hypothermia.
8. Prekestolen, Norway – Authorities Have Refused To Put Barriers To Keep The Site’s Beauty
This incredible spot is only accessible via a 2.4 mile hike but as you can see it would definitely be worth it. Prekestolen, a 1,968-foot mountain cliff in Rogaland, Norway is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway with approximately 150,000 visitors a year. The cliff is also a popular site for BASE jumpers from all over the world. The name of the cliff translates to Preachers Pulpit or Pulpit Rock.
You would think that the remoteness of this site would prevent high suicide numbers and you’d be right too. But there are still people that make the one-way journey to leap off this cliff. Authorities have been asked to install a barrier or fencing, however, they have so far refused, saying that it will ruin the natural beauty of the site. Still, I bet standing up there must be pretty creepy.
7. Prince Edward Viaduct, Canada – Averaged One Person Every 22 Days In ’97
By 2003 the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto, Canada was the second most used suicide site in North America, following the Golden Gate Bridge. By that year there had already been nearly 500 suicides at this site which earned the Viaduct a macabre nickname, “a magnet of suicide”. The worst year was 1997 when the suicide rate averaged one person every 22 days. The jumpers were also posing a safety risk to the traffic traveling underneath.
Since then a barrier called the Luminous Veil, consisting of 9,000 steel rods, has been erected at a cost of $5.5 million to prevent people from taking their lives from the Viaduct. Sadly, the overall suicide rate by jumping has not decreased in the city of Toronto since its construction.
6. Van Stadens Bridge, South Africa – Installed A Video Surveillance System
The Van Stadens Bridge crosses over the Van Stadens River in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and the view from the bridge into the gorge is quite incredible. It was opened for use in 1971 but just 12 days later a local man committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. Since then it has gained the reputation as the Bridge of Death as it is one of the most popular suicide sites in South Africa.
From the bridge it is a 460-foot drop to the valley floor below and since the bridge was opened almost 90 people have taken their lives here. A video-surveillance system was installed in 2005 and in 2013 a full-length barrier was erected to try and prevent further loss of life.
5. Beachy Head, England – Team Patrols The Site For Jumpers
It’s easy to see why Beachy Head located in East Sussex, England, is a popular tourist attraction. It is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising up 530 feet from sea level. But with no barriers or fences in place, it has also become one of the world’s most notorious spots for suicides.
Between 1965 and 1979 alone, there were an estimated 124 deaths at Beachy Head, almost all of which were ruled suicides. Thanks to the work done by the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, who patrol the area day and night, the rate of jumpers has decreased, but there are still about 20 suicides a year at this site. Locals are always on the lookout for potentially suicidal visitors and there are signs posted along the trail with emergency numbers for troubled souls.
4. Lawyers Head, New Zealand – Road Leading To Site Was Closed For Prevention
I know what you’re thinking – this picture doesn’t look disturbing at all. It just looks like a gorgeous beach, the kind of place that would make the perfect vacation spot. Well, when you hear why this spot is infamous you might have second thoughts about that.
Lawyers Head is a well-known landmark along the coast of Otago, New Zealand, but the spot is not only known for its beauty. It also has the reputation of having the highest number of suicides in New Zealand. In 2006 the road leading to this landmark was closed and although this frustrated residents it had one benefit. Because people could not reach the site there were no more suicides whereas in the 10 years before that 13 people took their lives by jumping off the 111-foot cliff. This may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that New Zealand only has a tiny population of around 4 million people.
3. Eduardo Villena Rey Bridge, Peru – Covered Bridge With Windows For Prevention
Miraflores, a district of Lima, Peru, is an upmarket area with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops which makes it one of the main tourist spots in the region. It is also where the Eduardo Villena Rey Bridge is found; a site notorious for its high suicide rates.
Peru is a religious country where suicide is not freely discussed, making it difficult for those with suicidal thoughts to get help. The site became so notorious that the city decided to cover the bridge with large windows to try and lower the number of deaths. This has worked well although locals believe that the street underneath the bridge is haunted by the souls of the dead jumpers and they avoid it whenever possible. Can’t say we blame them given its reputation.
2. Nusle Bridge, Czech Republic – 365 People Since Its Opening
The Nusle Bridge is an essential component in the Prague transport system. It carries six lanes of roadway, two train tracks, and pedestrian traffic. The bridge was opened in 1973 and although it is a beautiful landmark it does have a darker reputation.
It’s been nicknamed “Suicide Bridge” due to the approximately 365 deaths that have taken place here since its opening. In an effort to prevent further loss of life the city erected tall fence railings in 1997 but this did little to help as would-be jumpers simply climbed to the top of the fence. In 2007 the fencing was topped off with three feet of polished metal that now make it impossible to get over. Not a place you’d want to be walking alone on a dark night is it?
1. Segovia Viaduct, Spain – Thick Glass Panes Were Added For Prevention
Construction of the original Segovia Viaduct in Madrid started in 1874 and the bridge has been through a number of rebuilds and restorations since then. It has been a suicide hotspot almost since it was first completed, which makes the total number of suicide deaths difficult to calculate but we do know that suicides peaked in the nineties with at least four people a month jumping off the bridge. It’s estimated that in the 20th century alone around 500 people took their own lives here, hence why it is referred to as The Suicide Bridge.
In 1998 the city added thick acrylic glass barriers to prevent people from jumping off the bridge. This has not only made it safer for vehicles and pedestrians passing underneath the bridge but has also worked well to deter jumpers.