September 27, 2014

"Evelyn, still clutching a pearl necklace, looks disarmingly placid and composed – as if simply asleep."

"Around her, however, the broken glass and crumpled sheet metal of a car roof show the brutally destructive evidence of her 1050 ft jump. Some 60 years later the photo remains as haunting and affecting as when it was first published."

Via Stuff Mom Never Told You ("The Most Beautiful Suicide").

17 comments:

David said...

My guess is that she did not see a single turtle.

I was four years old when this happened and too young to remember the event but I remember it anyway for some reason.

Original Mike said...

What's with her foot sticking out of her hose? Could the impact do that?

rhhardin said...

Tossing yourself into a volcano, if that's a theme, is covered in Matthew Arnold's Empedocles on Etna.

tim maguire said...

I can't imagine choosing a method with so much time between the moment of commitment and the moment of completion. No matter how sure I was when I jumped, I'm even surer I'd change my mind on the way down.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can't imagine choosing a method with so much time between the moment of commitment and the moment of completion. No matter how sure I was when I jumped, I'm even surer I'd change my mind on the way down."

Well, the reports of those who survived the jump from the Golden Gate Bridge say that every single person regrets it. Which simply advises us: Don't kill yourself.

On the up side: The focusing of the mind is beyond what we can comprehend. You are certain to die, and yet, you are still alive. What happens in that small eternity? One might be curious.

I would stress: You don't know that you won't hurt someone else. Your body becomes murderous.

And again: Do not kill yourself. It's wrong. It's a mistake. And if you were in the process of falling, you would know it's a mistake. Everyone knows in that situation. The survivors have all weighed in.

rhhardin said...

Get Smart (2008) has a suicide hotline banner in it.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic but it has to do with thinking as you drop to earth from a great height, in my case with a parachute.

When I was 22 I made one parachute jump at a parachute club. The instructor had the situation tightly controlled and I followed the procedure exactly. The plane was at about 2000 feet when I jumped. I floated down in just a few minutes. I remember how quiet and peaceful I felt while hanging from the parachute with a wonderful view.

When I got to about treetop height the thought came to me "You could get hurt dropping from this height." I followed the instructions on how to roll and absorb the impact so I was not hurt after all.

Maybe suicide jumpers have similar thoughts as they fall.

PackerBronco said...

If she wanted to kill herself, what did she have to take a fine automobile with her?

chillblaine said...

The suicide hotline on the Coronado Bridge has no dial tone. No joke.

The Crack Emcee said...

"I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”

My ex would've been good to realize that,...

William Chadwick said...

Never mind. I saw the phrase "pearl necklace" and thought it referred to something else.

Michael said...

Althouse

I have given a lot of thought to the survivors of Golden Gate Bridge jumps and I wonder if those who regretted the leap,at the moment they let go employed some deep survival instincts to make it. Those who didn't regret it got what they wanted. Impossible to know if those who died also regretted the decision.

tpceltus said...

A couple of years ago, there was a book about people who survived horrific things. The book looked at reasons they may have survived. One chapter is on a Golden Gate jumper. Several reasons were postulated by the author for his survival: 1) the guy was young; 2) the cold bay water may have had something to done something to slow his breathing; 3) he happened to enter the water feet first.

His description is pretty interesting...it was not at all the peaceful event that he had imagined: icy water, slamming into the water, feeling the progressive crushing of bone...

Unknown said...

But people dive from great heights and survive. I would expect as many to live as to die jumping from the bridge just by chance. Is the problem landing flat or landing head first or not putting your arms out or ...

So how do you jump in the water so as to live and how do you jump in the water so as to die? I would think that to live, go either feet first, head first as in a dive, or curl up into a ball.

Unknown said...

Meanwhile how is this Evelyn not a bloody pulp? She jumped from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building? I would expect they would have had to pick her up with a sponge. She looks intact.

Unknown said...

is the water so shallow that they're hitting the bottom?

Peter said...

"So how do you jump in the water so as to live and how do you jump in the water so as to die? I would think that to live, go either feet first, head first as in a dive, or curl up into a ball."

If you're going head first, ball your hands into fists and use them to punch a hole in the water for your head, to avoid concussion and blackout.

If you have time, position yourself to maximize air resistance until you're near the end. BUT you don't have much time unless you're falling a very long way; it's less than ten seconds down from 1000 feet up.

BTW, Yosemite Falls is 2425 feet, but unless you've got considerable horizontal velocity you're going to smash into rocks well before you get to the bottom.