Suicide in Ithaca

The Informant is 20 years old, a junior at USC studying Screenwriting, and is from Denver, Colorado.

Him: My dad went to Cornell in Ithaca, NY, and he told this story to my cousins and I when we were kids.

Me: It’s like an urban legend?

Him: Totally. It might be distinct just to this part of the country. Apparently Ithaca has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In the country? Maybe just in the country. Like, my dad said people actually go here to kill themselves. They have these big gorge-canyon things there. In Ithaca.

So, anyway, my dad heard this from his friends in college when he went to Cornell and said there was a couple that was driving through Ithaca and they stopped for some sight-seeing on a bridge. They got out of their car and went up to the railing and it was really, really foggy. So foggy that suddenly, a man who didn’t see them, and they didn’t know he was behind them, ran between them and jumped off of the railing.

Me: He didn’t see them? Or he purposefully jumped between them?

Him: He didn’t see them because it was so foggy! The fog is important here. That’s a thing! It’s actually a thing! It’s so foggy out there that people don’t see other people sight-seeing when they jump off of these rails into the canyon things! My dad it told it to me and then my friend who goes to Cornell right now also told me she heard it from her orientation advisor and roommate when she was admitted.

Me: When did your dad tell you this?

Him: He told it to us when we were kids when we went camping because it’s like one of the only scary things that he knows. So whenever we told scary stories he’d tell that one because it’s the only one he has in his brain.


I actually found a similar occurrence in Japan in the Aokogahara Forest:

It’s the second most popular place where people go to commit suicide (The Golden Gate Bridge tops at #1).

These places are interesting in that people choose to travel to these locations in order to kill themselves. Some even make treks across the country. It makes me wonder about what in their personal, cultural, or sociological experience makes them want to travel to a “perfect place to die”. It also makes me wonder about the roots of the phenomenon of how suicides appear to others. There are statistics showing that females are more likely to commit “pretty suicides”, (i.e. death by pills, hanging themselves) whereas men are more likely to commit more brutal suicides (i.e. gunshot to head, murder suicides with knives, etc.). I wonder to what extent location factors into that mindset.