Recently, a medical doctor took his own life on Third Mainland Bridge followed by a rash of suicide attempts on the bridge, Bayo Akinloye and Toluwani Eniola examine other bridges in the world notorious for suicides
Eleven kilometres long and nondescript, Nigeria’s Third Mainland Bridge offers little glamour, glee and peace of mind except for the picturesque views of the lagoon, the University of Lagos waterfront and the sprawling Makoko shanties.
Constructed in 1990, it was Africa’s longest bridge until 1996. A common route for commuters, the bridge has become a paradoxical lifeline for those who have chosen to take solace in suicide.
In March alone, this year, the bridge has recorded one suicide and three attempted suicides. While it has recently become synonymous with suicide, it is by no means the only bridge where suicide is committed.
Below is a list of the top 10 bridges in the world with the highest rate of suicides according to Opentravel.com.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, US
Statistics: 1,500 deaths, approximately 30 suicides per year
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, 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.
It has become a Mecca of a sort 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 75m (245 feet) above the water is high enough for 98 per cent falls to be fatal.
According to unofficial estimates, around 1,500 people jumped into the water from the bridge’s deck.
2. The Clifton Suspension Bridge
Statistics: 1,000 deaths, approximately four suicides per year after new barriers added in 1998
The Clifton Suspension Bridge, spanning the beautiful Avon Gorge, in Bristol, United Kingdom, 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 1,000 people have 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 80s.
3. The Aurora Bridge
Statistics: Over 230 deaths
The Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, 51m (167 ft) above the water, is regarded as one of the deadliest suicide bridges in the United States.
The first suicide on the bridge 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
Statistics: About 1,000 deaths (unofficial records)
The Nanjing Bridge 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 external 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 man, Chen Si, began voluntarily patrolling this fatal spot and has persuaded dozens of people not to kill themselves.
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.”
5. Netty Jetty Bridge
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 showed that four people in Pakistan commit suicide every day.
6.The Nusle Bridge
Statistics: About 300 deaths
Another magnet for suicides is the Nusle Bridge 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 on suicide rate 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 suicides.
The new system has been tested by experienced rock climbers that could not get over the barriers.
7. The Coronado Bridge
Statistics: About 200 deaths
The San Diego-Coronado Bridge, locally referred to as the Coronado Bridge, links San Diego, California with Coronado, California.
It is regarded as the third deadliest suicide bridge in the United States. Between 1972 and 2000, more than 200 suicides were committed on the bridge.
8. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Statistics: About 100 deaths
Another bridge often used for suicide is Sunshine Skyway, spanning Florida’s Tampa Bay.
Around 100 people have committed suicide by jumping from the centre 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
Statistics: Average of 400 deaths
When opened in 1918 in Toronto, no one thought this majestic construction would become a 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 $5.5m.
It is built of 9,000 rods, each five metres tall. It spaced 12.7 cm (five 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
Statistics: About 140 deaths
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 one of the busiest bridges 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.