“Suicide Tourism” in New York

Just the title gives me the chills. I believe most people travel to enrich their lives, to explore the world, to grow as people, to relax, to have fun. The word “suicide” in relation to travel or tourism is just wrong.

A recent study by the New York Academy of Medicine reveals that more than 10% of all Manhattan suicides are tourists traveling to the Big Apple to take their lives. Jumping from landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Times Square and the George Washington Bridge, is one of the main ways of doing so.

The New York Times reports that from 1990-2004, of the 7,634 suicides in the city, 407 were tourists (i.e. non-residents of NYC). Although jumping from famous sites is generally more popular in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in California and the Eiffel Tower in Paris are also notorious for their suicide rates.

Euthanasia is a never-ending debate that I don’t want to get into, but this whole death tourism subject was last thrown around in 2003 when a few Swiss organizations created a stir as they attracted an increasing number of foreigners to Switzerland to assist their death. “We help others to die with a dignity they cannot find in their own countries,” is what one of the organizations claimed they were doing. Euthanasia is also legal in Holland and Belgium.

As for those who kill themselves without assistance by jumping from a famous site: it is not clear if these people travel specifically to take their lives, but the research says that the people who do land up doing that, do so because it “guarantees them a notoriety they may not have had otherwise.”

The complete study conducted by the New York Academy of medicine will be released on Monday.

(Via New York Times)