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The Quick 10: 10 Deadly Landmarks and Monuments

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I realize this is a pretty morbid subject, but when I was researching the Statue of Liberty for Monday's article I came across a list of people who have jumped off of Lady Liberty. Some did it for sport "“ paragliding and that sort of thing "“ but one guy committed suicide by jumping out of her crown. That made me wonder how often that sort of thing happens at monuments and landmarks, and the answer is: pretty often, but on occasion, the person jumping doesn't always succeed. Here are five suicides off of well known monuments or landmarks that failed and five that succeeded.

statue1. The Statue of Liberty suicide happened on May 13, 1929. A witness reported that Ralph Gleason made his way out one of the windows on the crown, then seemed to maybe change his mind and try to crawl back in. The witness said it looked like Gleason slipped at that point, then flew downward, bounced off the statue's breast and landed in the grass at the base, just feet from a very surprised man who was mowing the grass. (As reader Carl pointed out, this was the first of two suicide attempts at the Statue of Liberty. Elhajo Malick Dieye died on June 1, 1997.)
2. In 1932, Peg Entwistle made her mark on Hollywood, but not really in the way most actresses intend to: tired of the constant rejections and bad reviews, she committed suicide by jumping off of the fifty-foot "H" in the famed sign in Griffith Park. Although it made a statement, it probably wasn't the best choice for suicide "“ the coroner's report said she died from multiple fractures and breaks in the pelvis, which means it probably wasn't an immediate death. Entwistle's body wasn't discovered for two days, so who knows how long she survived in agony?

3. There have only been 20-some suicides at the Hoover Dam since its completion in 1936 (so the official literature says "“ some "insiders" say it happens about every other week), one of the most well-known being part of a murder-suicide in 2004. The man apparently shot his girlfriend at the Treasure Island casino on the Strip in Las Vegas, then drove to the Hoover Dam and engaged in a standoff with police. After several hours, he finally jumped and fell about 750 feet to his death.

4. Three suicides have happened from the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, all of them in the "˜70s. After two in 1974 alone, a "safety grid" was installed around the observation deck's platform. Even so, another jumper managed to get through the grid and find his way to the ground in 1978. Although there have been attempts since then, police have been successful in coaxing the distraught people down.

5. As you might suspect, suicides aren't totally unheard of at the Eiffel Tower, but they aren't that common, either: The Société de la Tour Eiffel says there have only been 349 successful suicides since the tower first opened in 1889. They aren't all jumpers "“ some hang themselves from the beam. Those jumping from the first level don't always die "“ in fact, a young woman survived when she jumped, was caught in a gust of wind and blown onto the roof of a car, which broke her fall. She later married the car's owner. Take this one with a grain of salt, because I can't find a name or a year or any identifying characteristics about it"¦ but it's a good story nonetheless.

6. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. Of the more than 1,500 people who have jumped, only 26 have survived. In 1979, a 17-year-old man jumped off of the bridge 250 feet up, then somehow came to his senses mid-air. Great timing, kid. It's a bit of free-fall, so he had time to decide that his best chance of survival was hitting the water feet-first and adjusted his position accordingly. He was right "“ he hit the water and was well enough to swim out, get in his car and drive himself to the hospital. He had some cracked vertebrae but was otherwise fine (and is presumably still around today).

7. More than 30 people have killed themselves by leaping from the Empire State Building over the years, but there was at least one who tried and was unsuccessful. In 1979, a woman named Elvita Adams leapt from the 86th floor, got caught in a gust of wind and was blown back on to the 85th floor. She suffered a broken hip.

8. The Clifton Suspension Bridge in England has seen its share of suicides since it opened in 1864. But thanks to her attire, one lady who jumped in 1885 was very lucky. After an argument with her boyfriend, Sarah Ann Henley jumped off of the Clifton intending, obviously, to end her life. But thanks to the Victorian fashion trends, she was wearing a couple of layers of petticoats and skirts and undergarments, and the wind caught them just right as she was falling and acted kind of like a parachute. Seriously! She suffered some injuries but none too serious and lived to be 84 years old.

colorado9. Just earlier this year, a despondent man drove off a cliff at Colorado National Monument. But he didn't quite make it to the bottom of the canyon "“ his van got stuck on an outcropping of rock that prevented it from falling. The man called 911 and was rescued.
10. Aokigahara, the "Sea of Trees" located at the base of Mount Fuji, has become a popular spot for suicides ever since the novel Kuroi Jukai, (SPOILER ALERT) which depicts a pair of lovers killing themselves in the forest at the end. A yearly search of the forest is conducted to retrieve bodies; in 2002 alone 78 were found.

On that uplifting note, I'm off for a long weekend! I'm headed to L.A. and will come back with lots of flossy stories for you "“ in fact, we're declaring next week L.A. Week here on the Quick 10. If you're interested, you can follow the trip via my Twitter. And don't worry "“ I won't be jumping off of the Capitol Records building. Have a good Memorial Day!

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

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