Remember Thomas Magill, the man who survived his apparent suicidal jump from the 39th floor of a building by landing atop a conveniently parked Dodge Charger? He’s not really alone, even if he thinks he is. According to the Wall Street Journal, suicide by leaping from tall buildings (and bridges) is one of the most popular methods of offing yourself in the city, surpassed only by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation. Man. Is it really only Tuesday?
The reason, say experts, is that there are lots of tall buildings here. But we think that simplifies the matter a bit. There are also lots of vehicles in front of which to jump, and/or subway tracks in which to fall into, no? More important than accessibility, we dare say, is the fact that if you jump from a tall building, your chances of survival are slim to none, except in the odd instance of a Dodge Charger parked below. And New Yorkers are nothing if not goal-oriented.
Of the 473 people who committed suicide in the city in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 93, just under 20%, did so by leaping to their deaths.
Over the eight years prior to that, the percentage of jumper suicides in the city was even higher at 23%. Nationally the percentage of the total suicide victims who jump to their deaths during that time was only about 2%.
It’s possible as well that New Yorkers have a certain flair for the dramatic. In the rest of the nation, boring old average people just use guns, or overdose. Because, anyway, jumping from your split-level ranch-style will only result in loss of dignity, and maybe a sprain if you’re lucky.
The good news: New York City’s suicide rate is about half that of the rest of the country’s rate. Because, really, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Don’t jump. Please.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2010