As a blogger, to me Digg is like those supermarket checkout stand fishwraps that let us know when Bat Boy got married, and sometimes offer the occasional newsbit (but mostly the former). Up late last night I parsed this item, found on Digg’s front page, about whether or not (and how) to survive a jump or fall from very high, and they use the Golden Gate Bridge as an example to explain their theories. Here’s a snip off The Straight Dope:
Scientists have long been fascinated by what happens to people who fall from great heights without a parachute. Unsurprisingly, most of them get killed; perhaps surprisingly, a few don’t. A prime example of the latter was a 17-year-old male who in 1979 leaped off the Golden Gate Bridge from a height of 250 feet. According to one report, “he recount[ed] a slowing of time initially, and mid-fall, when fully realizing the oncoming impact, strove to adjust his attitude to the vertical feet-first position. An almost perfect entry was achieved. Although dazed, he swam to shore” and checked into a hospital, where his worst injury turned out to be several cracked vertebrae.
Walking away from something like that is rare. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most popular suicide location in the world–at least 1,200 people had jumped as of 2003, of whom fewer than 20 survived. A more typical outcome was that of a stuntman calling himself Kid Courage, who jumped off the bridge in 1980 trying to set a free-fall record. He landed flat on his back and was dead when pulled from the water with massive internal injuries.
The key to survival appears to be vertical entry.
What’s especially interesting to me is that I screened the first showing of Eric Steel’s The Bridge, about GG Bridge suicides. Here is my huge writeup and review of the film — and if you look closely in the comments, you’ll see that the man who survived, and his father, both left comments on my post. But in the film (and after, onstage) a young — and a jumper much more recently than 1979 — GG Bridge suicide survivor spoke about his experience and how he survived. A few months later, I posted this infographic about popular GG Bridge suicide spots — we have jumpers every 2 weeks. So is “the straight dope” really that straight?