It is a tragic fact that people can be driven to want to end their own lives. For whatever dark reasons, some find the prospect of death to be more comforting than continuing among the living. While the reasons behind a suicide can be perplexing and inscrutable as it is, even more enigmatic is that in some cases there are places in this world that seem to call out to these lost souls, beckoning them to come there to die. These mysterious places have a gravity of their own which relentlessly pulls in death, and adds to their collections of lost souls. It is unknown what draws those who want to die to these far flung places, puzzling as to why are they inexorably lured here on their final journeys. Yet they continue to congregate at these particular locations to die at an unreasonable, inexplicable rate, perhaps imbuing the land itself with despair and desolation. Here we will explore some of the sinister, haunting places of the world that call out for more souls, and where people go to die. I have categorized these places according to general region.
One of the oldest and most well-known suicide spots in Europe is also a well-known landmark located in England. Here along the south coast is a series of soaring, majestic chalk cliffs with striking white facades that reach dizzying heights of up to 162 meters (531 ft) above sea level, and which reach their peak at a place called Beachy Head, in East Sussex, near the town of Eastbourne. These iconic sheer cliffs create breathtakingly beautiful views, and indeed the name Beachy Head derives from the French word Beauchef, meaning “beautiful headland.”
Yet for all of this natural beauty and splendor, there is a sinister undercurrent running through this area, as it has become well known as one of the most infamous suicide spots in the world and the top such location in Britain. People have been coming here to die since the 7th century, often traveling from far and wide to hurl themselves from the scenic, picturesque cliffs to the jagged rocks below. In fact, it is thought that over 60% of the victims here are from elsewhere, inexplicably coming from afar to stare death in the face. In some cases people don’t even exit their vehicles, preferring instead to drive right over the precipitous ledge into oblivion. As of the 2000s, it has been estimated that an average of around 20 people a month make their way here to plunge to their deaths among the natural splendor and sweeping vistas. Locals say they are always on the lookout for people who seem to be somewhat detached or otherwise potential suicide candidates, with some even claiming that they have almost a sixth sense for ferreting out jumpers, yet little can stop the area’s mysterious allure for those who wish to end it all.
One particular eerie incident was a double suicide carried out in 2009 by a couple by the name of Neil and Kazumi Puttick. Their 5-year-old son had died of meningitis and this stripping from them of the most important thing in their life made them long for the embrace of death. The couple allegedly stuffed the body of their dead son into a sack, tied it to themselves, and leapt from the sheer cliffs holding hands. A bag of assorted toys and belongings of the dead son were left scattered upon the windswept cliff ledge above, either forgotten, abandoned, or as a reminder of a life that was snuffed out too soon. No one will ever know.
As the deaths continue to mount, measures have been put into effect to try and curb the persistent suicide problem. A group called the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team makes regular patrols of the area day and night trying to find and stop potential suicides, and another organization called the Samaritans also not only patrols the area, but also posts flyers with their phone number urging potential jumpers to call for support. Although these efforts have in recent years somewhat curbed the number of people coming here to die, come they still do.
Staying within England, we come to the London Underground subway system, most commonly known today colloquially as “The Tube,” which is a sprawling network of tunnels and railways consisting of over 250 miles (400km) of track, and which was the first underground rail network in the world as well as an engineering marvel of its time when it was opened in 1863. With nearly 300 stations and 11 lines scattered throughout the city, the London Underground remains even today one of the vastest and most famous subway systems in the world. It is also a dark haven for those looking to end their own lives.
From at around the 1940s, the uncommonly high suicide rate started in earnest, beginning with around 25 people a year, which quickly ballooned to a whopping 100 per year by the 1980s. There were so many such deaths, in fact, that it has long been reported that cleaning crews are forced to store the bodies in cleaning cupboards until they can be properly disposed of. Typically the person looking to kill themselves will patiently wait with the other passengers until one of the large, heavy trains comes barreling down the tracks, after which they will toss themselves onto the tracks and under the deadly steel wheels of their doom.
This happens on a weekly basis, and is so common that train crew have their own code words for these incidents, such as “passenger action” or “one under.” For reasons that remain elusive, the King’s Cross St. Pancras station reigns supreme as the place where most have died, with a startling 145 deaths between 2001 and 2011, as well as the stations Mile End, Victoria, Camden Town and Archway. The problem is so rampant that some stations have pits originally designed to drain excess water but have since come to be known as “suicide pits,” since they represent a last resort way for a jumper to gain a moment of lucidity to get out of the way and take refuge from a passing train.
Also in Europe is perhaps one of the most instantly recognizable and iconic tourist traps in the world; the Eiffel Tower of France. Gustave Eiffel’s 1,063 ft (324 m) tower has since its erection in 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair become a symbol of France, an icon of romance, and a world renowned landmark. What many of the tourists who flock here might not know is that this famous landmark is also the location of the most suicides in the country, despite the installation of various measure such as handrails, safety nets, and railings designed to prevent such a thing. These fatal jumps have happened at all hours, with diners at the restaurant on the second floor of the tower having had their meals unsettlingly interrupted by a body crashing into the roof above. The French government understandably wants to downplay this unsettling trend, and is reluctant to release exact figures on suicide deaths, but it certainly puts a new spin on this world famous spot.
Perhaps the most bizarre and most mysterious suicide spot in Great Britain is one that seems to draw in not people, but dogs, leading it to be called the “Dog’s Suicide Bridge.” Overtoun Bridge, in the town of Milton, near Dumbarton, Scotland, is at first glance a humble, small bridge that might be easy to miss otherwise among the similar bridges of the area, yet it is here where dogs seem to come in droves to inexplicably leap to their deaths. Intriguingly, all of the deaths that occur here happen on clear, sunny days at precisely the same spot on the right-hand side of the bridge, and all of the victims are long-muzzled breeds such as Collies, Labradors, and Greyhounds. Some owners have described being out for a walk with their normally happy dog, only to have it suddenly veer over to the side of the bridge and horrifically launch itself over, always at the same spot and always without warning. Those who have had their dogs on leashes at the time claim that as their dog approaches the spot they become visibly perturbed, and will tug fiercely at the leash trying to go over the side.
Such unexplained dog deaths at the bridge have long puzzled both dog owners and vets alike, and there have been many theories put forward as to why they should feel compelled to end their lives here at this particular place. One idea is that the design of the bridge simply confuses dogs, with the solid granite walls of the bridge blocking vision and sound to disorient them and cause their sense of smell to go into overdrive. Another theory is that the rate of strange canine suicides coincided with the rise of mink farming in the area, with the mink exuding a musky smell which drives the dogs nuts and makes them unintentionally jump to their deaths. Other explanations are more mysterious in nature, claiming that the area is haunted by evil spirits, or that it lies on a “thin spot” between two separate dimensions. Whatever the cause, dogs continue to be drawn here to this unassuming bridge to die for no rational or discernible reason.
Also in Europe is the Nusle Bridge, which lies within the rustic, quaint neighborhood of Nusle, in Prague, Czech Republic. This picturesque community sits within a small wooded valley which is spanned by the concrete bridge soaring by over 140 feet (around 43 meters) above, along with its highway, viaduct, and train tracks. Unfortunately, the bridge has a habit of raining down bodies upon the startled citizens from above. The Nusle Bridge is the site of hundreds of suicides, with over 300 such deaths reported here since its construction. Why do people come to this particular bridge to die? No one knows.
The U.S. state of California is home to not only the most photographed bridge in the world, but also the undisputed champ of sheer numbers of suicides in the world. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 and has since gone on to become yet another one of the most instantly recognizable structures in existence. The bridge spans the narrow channel between the San Francisco Bay and the ocean, stretching for around 1.7 mi (2.7 km), at a height of about 245 feet (75 m) over the waves below and offering unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.
Besides being a magnet for tourists from around the world, the Golden Gate Bridge also draws in an unprecedented number of suicides every year, with over 1600 deaths documented here since records began and doubtless many more who went to their ends undiscovered. The people who leap from the bridge here have very little chance of survival, dying of hypothermia or drowning in the frigid waters below if the sheer, perilous fall doesn’t kill them first, and there is only a 2-5% survival rate for those who take the plunge here. The rate of suicides here has long been so insanely high that San Francisco officials stopped posting public records on the number of such deaths in 1995 in an effort to discourage copycat suicides. Nevertheless the deadliest month ever recorded for the bridge was August of 2013, during which at least one jumper ever thee days leapt from the scenic bridge. Apparently there are so many jumpers here that the deaths are categorized based on which of the bridge’s numerous lampposts they were at when they finally threw themselves over to their death.
The frightening number of suicides from the iconic bridge has spurred authorities to increase efforts at prevention of such incidents. The bridge has its own Highway Patrol task force aimed at preventing suicides here, and in 2014 a plan was approved to install a steel safety net under the bridge to catch those who jump and prove as a deterrent. So far, the logistics of putting up the gigantic net under the windy bridge and the $76 million dollar price tag have kept it from being completed as of yet.
Another notorious suicide bridge in California, although not nearly as famous as the Golden Gate, is the Colorado Street Bridge, in Pasadena. The historical 1,500-foot-long bridge was completed in 1913, and has the distinction of being the end of the infamous Route 66, which has its own cloud of mysteries that I have covered here on Mysterious Universe before. The bridge spans a deep canyon between the San Gabriel Mountains and Los Angeles River, and has accrued so many suicides that it is commonly called “Suicide Bridge.” Since construction was completed nearly 200 people have met their doom here, and no one is sure quite why they choose this particular place to carry out their grim deed.
The bridge was closed for a time before being reopened again in 1993. Interestingly, in attendance for this reopening was a woman who had been tossed from above in 1937 by her own mother, before she committed suicide herself. The baby was luckily caught in the limbs of trees and survived. Authorities have estimated that even with safety precautions such as nets and railings, there are still around 10 deaths a years linked to the Colorado Street Bridge, and it comprises 10% of all suicides in the city.
Second only to the Golden Gate Bridge in the sheer number of people who come to end their lives is yet another famous landmark of the globe, Niagara Falls, which is the collective name for three magnificent waterfalls that straddle the border between Canada and the United States. This is a place as picturesque as it gets, yet its natural beauty is not without its dark undertones. The Niagara Falls have a long history of pulling people over regardless of whether it is intentional or not, but there is definitely a trend for those who want to be swallowed by death making their way here to do so.
Between 1850 and 2011 there have been an estimated nearly 3,000 people who have seen this majestic view as their last sight, with doubtless even more who were simply never recorded. This is so many, in fact, that it ranks only second to the Golden Gate Bridge in terms of intensity of suicide deaths in the world. Most suicides here seem to occur at the Horseshoe Falls, although no one really knows why. Around 25 people each year take it upon themselves to make the journey here to meet their end, and this number does not seem to be abating. Interestingly, the most popular day and time for people to take their last gander at the majestic scenery is on Mondays at around 4 PM, with Memorial Day weekend being often designated as the “Suicide Season,” which culminates into what has been called “an orgy of death” in September. There are so many bodies turning up bobbing about in the frothy waters at the base of the falls that the famous Maid Of The Mist tourist excursion boats are often tasked with fishing the corpses out of the water. The rate of death is difficult to staunch here, as there are so many places from which people can jump, making control of the area difficult at best.
Also in Canada is the Prince Edward Viaduct, an enormous 5-lane bridge in Toronto, Ontario that is a three hinged concrete-steel arch bridge with a total span of 494 meters (1,620 feet), and 40 meters (131 feet) high over the Don Valley. The very design of the bridge has made it difficult to determine just how many of the many deaths that have occurred here are intentional or not, as the railings here are alarmingly low for such a potentially dangerous spot. These railings were originally so low, in fact, that it was not unheard of for people to accidentally stumble or trip over them to go hurtling over the edge, and they are easy to climb for adventurous souls looking to get a better view from the top.
It was perhaps this poor design and ease of climbing the low railings that have propelled the Prince Edward Viaduct to its sinister reputation as one of the most active suicide hotpots in North America, at one point drawing in around two such deaths every month. Noticing this startling trend, authorities have made efforts to curb the suicides by installing a series of steel rods to act as a suicide barrier. This barrier, called the “Luminous Veil,” has been instrumental to effectively ending the viaduct’s reputation as a good place to go to die.
Asia and the Pacific
Our first stop in Asia is Japan, where we can find one of the most menacing and creepiest suicide spots in perhaps the entire world. Sitting at the base of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji is an expanse of forest measuring around 14 sq. miles (35 sq. km), commonly referred to as Aokigahara, as well as “The Sea of Trees.” The location, although eerily beautiful, is quite a spooky place to be. Here the thickly packed trees block out sunlight and sound, bathing the forest floor in a surreal, still, and silent gray, through which meander numerous winding pathways that spiral off into the quiet murk. Even the sparse sounds of birds, insects, and other forest life seem muted here, as if filtering in through a wall from another room. Adding an additional layer of dread to the atmosphere here is the presence of various odd relics dotting the gnarled roots and underbrush of the forest floor, such as discarded shoes of all sizes, clothing, personal effects, and even creepy dolls, all left here for unknown reasons and which serve to create a profound sense of foreboding.
It is this ethereal, almost fairy-tale like wood where an estimated average of 30 to 100 people a year come to end their lives, often many more depending on the year, and many more unsuccessful attempts, earning it its more ominous nickname “The Suicide Forest,” which I have written of in more detail here before. So remote are some areas of the forest that most who end up dead here are not even found until much later, when unsuspecting hikers stumble across their remains, which are often found hanging from the twisted branches of the trees. There are so many suicides here that locals have said they can tell just by looking at a visitor whether they have come to enjoy the scenery or come to take their last breaths, and there are numerous signs hanging up with messages meant to dissuade such people from going through with their dark plans. There are regular sweeps made through the forest to look for bodies, but the thick underbrush and inaccessible areas here make some bodies difficult to find.
Aokigahara also has the distinction of being not only a prolific suicide hotspot, but also an intensely haunted one, with numerous tales of ghosts and evil spirits wandering through the trees here. The area is also known to confound compasses, cause electrical equipment to go haywire, and instill a deep sense of confusion, dread, and disorientation in even the most experienced hikers, with many reporting becoming totally lost even after very short distances. Lost time is also not uncommon here, with people reporting losing consciousness and waking up many hours later with no memory of what happened, sometimes in a different area from where they had been.
It is unknown why those desperate enough to end their own lives are drawn to this strange place, but the numbers continue to remain high, with 105 bodies found during a sweep in 2005 and a staggering 274 suicide attempts here in 2010 alone. Adding to the dark mystique of Aokigahara are some of the tales told by those who survived their ordeal, who speak of feeling an irresistible pull towards the forest and an inexplicable desire to be there and die there. The forest has been the subject of several book and films. Japan is home to yet another morbid magnet for suicides as well. Located of the island of Izu Ōshima, around100 km (60 miles) south of the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, is an active volcano by the name of Mt. Mihara. Despite its inherit dangers, Mt. Mihara is a fairly popular tourist destination, and many come here to witness its active lava flow, which is open and easily accessible. From around the 1920s, this fact began to make the volcano a popular place to dramatically commit suicide by diving into the hot lava, but it was one such death in 1933 that really launched the volcano’s macabre popularity as a suicide spot, and quickly elevated this grim reputation to a level rivalling that of Aokigahara.
In 1933, a 21-year-old university student named Kiyoko Matsumoto made national headlines when she hurled herself into the fiery lava here after being shunned for her taboo lesbian relationship with another female student at the time. The media jumped all over the sad case, and it is perhaps this extensive coverage that made Mt. Mihara a fashionable place to go for those looking to kill themselves. In that year alone, 933 people came to the volcano to dive into the lava in a grotesque imitation of Matsumoto’s tragic death, and there were 350 more such deaths the following year in 1934. Most of the people who came here to die were similarly those who had experienced bad luck in love, with jilted lovers or suicide pacts between lovers who could for whatever reasons not be together making up the vast majority of victims consumed by the voracious fires of the volcano.
The news generated by this vast number of copycat suicides drove up the island’s macabre popularity, earning it the sinister name “Suicide Island.” Disturbingly, numerous curious people made the journey there for the purposes of watching for those who would leap from the crater, and tourist numbers went up so much that the Tokyo Bay Steamship Company increased daily ferry trips from Tokyo to the volcano. Increased security measures over the years have served to drastically reduce the number of suicides at the volcano, but they still continue to this day. Over the years Mt. Mihara has featured prominently in Japanese popular culture, being the location of several Godzilla films, as well as the location for a suicide in the popular 1998 horror Movie, The Ring.
Topping off our tour of the Pacific area we come to the country of Australia, which boasts yet another of the most prolific suicide spots in the world. Lying just to the south of the entrance to Sydney Harbor is a series of cliffs called The Gap, which soar to dizzying heights over the idyllic ocean views and which have been a popular suicide spot since at least the 1800s. It is estimated that around 50 jumpers a year make their way to these majestic cliffs from far and wide to cast themselves off into death and oblivion towards the hungry rocks and churning waves below. While most of the places mentioned here such far seem to be havens for desolation and abandonment, this particular locale is known for having a savior of sorts. WWII veteran Don Ritchie lives right next to the notorious suicide point and has taken it upon himself to try and stop the needless deaths. Over the years, Don has become somewhat famous for approaching would-be suicides and asking them to come to his house for drink. The 85-year-old has a penchant for approaching jumpers and simply asking them of they would like to go to his place for a drink. In this manner, Don has managed to save more than 160 potential jumpers, and 400 more unofficially, all by simply lending a sympathetic ear. So effective has he been that he has dramatically prompted an end to the sheer staggering number of suicides occurring at this picturesque place, earning him the nickname “The Angel of the Gap.”
What draws those people so wreathed in desolation and despondence to these locations? Is it a desire to look out upon some dream-like magnificent vista before casting off into the unknown oblivion that lies beyond? Do they seek to witness some form of beauty that can somehow redeem the wicked or hopeless life that has brought them to this point? Is it merely the way these places seem to facilitate death with their high spaces or ease of access? Or is it something more, something that calls out and beckons from somewhere out beyond our understanding? As long as our kind is beset by the tragedy of those seeking to tragically cut their lives short, it seems that there will always be mysterious magnets for this activity that lure them in. We may never know, but we can hope that those who have reached the conclusion that they have no other choice can perhaps find a way to hang on and resist that pull.