Top Six Suicide Sites in the World

The following is a list of current and historic sites frequently chosen to commit suicide, usually by jumping. Some of the sites listed have installed suicide barriers, and other precautions.

Exact numbers of victims are sometimes difficult to determine, as many jurisdictions and media agencies have ceased collecting statistics and reporting suicides at common sites, in the belief that the reporting may encourage others.

1. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

More people die by suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world. The deck is approximately 245 feet (75 m) above the water. After a fall of approximately four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph or approximately 120 km/h. Most jumpers die from impact trauma on contact with the water. The few who survive the initial impact generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water.

Most suicidal jumps occur on the side facing the bay. The side facing the Pacific is closed to pedestrians.

An official suicide count is kept, sorted according to which of the bridge's 128 lamp posts the jumper was nearest when he or she jumped. By 2005, this count exceeded 1,200 and new suicides were occurring about once every two weeks. For comparison, the reported second-most-popular place to commit suicide in the world, Aokigahara Forest in Japan, has a record of 78 bodies, found within the forest in 2002, with an average of 30 a year. There were 34 bridge-jump suicides in 2006 whose bodies were recovered, in addition to four jumps that were witnessed but whose bodies were never recovered, and several bodies recovered suspected to be from bridge jumps. The California Highway Patrol removed 70 apparently suicidal people from the bridge that year.

2. Aokigahara forest, Mount Fuji, Japan

The forest is a popular place for suicides, reportedly the most popular in Japan and second in the world after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Statistics vary. In the period leading up to 1988, about 30 suicides occurred there every year.

In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, exceeding the previous record of 74 in 1998. In 2003, the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom completed the act. Suicides are said to increase during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan.

The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging those who have gone there in order to commit suicide to seek help and not kill themselves. The annual body search, consisting of a small army of police, volunteers, and attendant journalists, began in 1970. The site's popularity has been attributed to the 1960 novel Nami no Tō (波の塔?, lit., "Tower of Waves") by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death: ubasute may have been practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of those left to die.

3. Beachy Head, East Sussex, England

There are an estimated 20 deaths a year at Beachy Head. The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team conducts regular day and evening patrols of the area in attempts to locate and stop potential jumpers. Workers at the pub and taxi drivers are also on the look-out for potential victims, and there are posted signs with the telephone number of Samaritans urging potential jumpers to call them. Deaths at the site are well-covered by the media; Ross Hardy, the founder of the chaplaincy team, said this encouraged people to come and jump off. Worldwide, the landmark’s suicide rate is surpassed only by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Aokigahara Woods in Japan, according to Thomas Meaney of The Wall Street Journal.

4. Humber Bridge, Kingston-upon-Hull, England

During construction of the bridge, the road deck sections were floated up on barges then hoisted into place by cables. During one of these lifting operations some of the cables on one of the road deck sections failed, leaving the section hanging at an angle. The section was, however, subsequently rescued and used.

More than 200 incidents of people jumping or falling from the bridge have taken place since it was opened in 1981; only five have survived. Between 1990 and February 2001 the Humber Rescue Team launched its boat 64 times to deal with people falling or jumping off the bridge. Notable incidents include the cases of a West Yorkshire woman and her two-year-old daughter who fell off the bridge in 2005, a mother who killed herself and her 12-year old son with Fragile X Syndrome in April 2006, and that of a man jumping from the bridge to his death on the A63 road below in September 2006. As a result, plans were announced on 26 December 2009 to construct a suicide barrier along the walkways of the bridge; design constraints were cited as the reason for non-implementation before this time.

5. Aurora Bridge, Seattle, Washington

The bridge's height and pedestrian access make it a popular location for suicide jumpers. Since construction, there have been over 230 completed suicides from the bridge, with nearly 50 deaths occurring in the past decade. The first suicide occurred in January 1932, when a shoe salesman leapt from the bridge before it was completed. Numerous reports have been written about the high incidence of suicide on the bridge, many of them using the bridge as a case study in fields ranging from suicide prevention to the effects of prehospital care on trauma victims. Despite the force of impact, jumpers occasionally survive the fall from the bridge, though not without sustaining serious injuries.

News sources have referred to the George Washington Memorial Bridge as a suicide bridge and, in December 2006, six emergency phones and 18 signs were installed on the bridge to encourage people to seek help instead of jumping. In late 2006 a group of community activists and political leaders living near the bridge created the Fremont Individuals and Employees Nonprofit to Decrease Suicides (FRIENDS), their primary focus being the installation of a suicide barrier on the bridge.

In 2007, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire allocated $1.4 million in her supplemental budget for the construction of an 8-foot (2.4 m) high suicide prevention fence to help reduce the number of suicides on the bridge. Construction of the fence began in Spring 2010 and was completed in February 2011.

6. Coronado Bridge, San Diego, California

It is the third deadliest suicide bridge in the USA, trailing only the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. Between 1972 and 2000, more than 200 suicides occurred on the bridge. Signs have been placed on the bridge urging potential suicides to call a hotline.

Suicide prevention advocates believe that suicide by bridge is more likely to be impulsive than other means, and that barriers can have a significant effect on reducing the incidence of suicides by bridge.