If anyone’s feeling like going down a long, sad Internet rabbit hole this afternoon, we’ve got just the thing for you. Since 1998, a website, which can be found under the URLs SkywayBridge.com and JumperPool.com, has tracked the number of suicides and attempted suicides that have taken place at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a 431-foot tall span that connects St. Petersburg and Terra Ceia.
The site warns potential visitors that it “may not be a fun place to visit if you have been affected by suicide in any way or are otherwise easily offended” and encourages those who fall under those categories to “just go away,” redirecting them to the cuddly “Poetry Corner” of ILuvCats.com.
Those brave enough to enter are greeted with some unsettling statistics: according to the site, there have been a total of 249 jumpers since 1954. Of the 249 reported jumpers, 214 were successful suicides, 34 were saved, and one was a murder. The site links to a newspaper clipping which describes a 1981 incident in which a 24-year-old man was forced to jump off the bridge at gunpoint, the unfortunate ending to a conflict over stereo equipment.
The website encourages readers to submit jumper activity and painstakingly maintains a record of all the jumpers by name as well as news articles describing the incidents. Though keeping up such a website seems like a morbid occupation, it has received positive feedback. One visitor writes: “I know what it feels like to be on the edge like that, and I honestly think it’s great that you’re taking some of the romance out of jumping. It’s so easy to suffer from depression and imagine suicide (especially with such dramatic style as jumping off of the skyway) will leave you looking like a victim of this horrible world and beloved in everyone’s mind. I’m glad that you’re showing it in a different light, because suicide is neither beautiful nor romantic.”
To drive home the idea that there is no romance in suicide, the site warns: “unless you slam into the sharp and jagged rocks, chances are very good that you won’t die immediately when you hit the water. it will hurt like all hell. your broken body will struggle to stay afloat. intense pain for who knows how long before you finally succumb to a horrid drowning death. maybe you will survive after all, now with life long debilitating injuries and additional mental anguish. are you really up for that?”
By Nastacia Leshchinskaya
Photo of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge via US Dept of the Interior