The Quick 10: 10 Deadly Landmarks and Monuments


I realize this is a pretty morbid subject, but when I was researching the Statue of Liberty 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 succeed. Here are five suicides off of well-known monuments or landmarks that failed and five that succeeded.

1. 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 1500 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.

9. In 2009, 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, which (SPOILER ALERT) 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.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

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5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

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6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.

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8 Things to Know About Crispus Attucks

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Crispus Attucks was the first person killed in the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770—and became known as the first fatality in the fight for American independence. In a poem memorializing the massacre, poet John Boyle O'Reilly wrote, "Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd, as you may, such deaths have been seed of nations." Attucks was America's first seed.

1. Crispus Attucks may have escaped slavery.

We have few facts about Attucks's early life. According to Mitch Kachun, author of First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory, Attucks was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, likely around the year 1723. Newspaper accounts following the Boston Massacre described him as "a Molatto." His father is said to have been an enslaved African man named Prince Yonger, while his mother was likely named Nancy Attucks and was of Natick or Wampanoag heritage.

Attucks may have been enslaved and escaped servitude in 1750. That year the Boston Gazette ran an ad offering 10 pounds to anybody who apprehended "'a Molatto fellow, about 27 Years of Age, named Crispas,' who 'ran away from his Master, William Brown, of Framingham,'" Kachun writes. "Crispas" was also described as being "'6 Feet two Inches high, [with] short curl'd hair, his Knees nearer together than common.'"

2. Crispus Attucks became a whaler.

Attucks is thought to have joined the crew of a Nantucket whaling ship and worked as a harpooner. He went by the alias "Michael Johnson," perhaps to avoid being sent back into slavery. (A newspaper reporting the massacre refers to him as a "mulatto man named Johnson" [PDF].) At the time of the massacre, Attucks had been planning to stay in Massachusetts only briefly. He had just returned from a voyage to the Bahamas and was preparing to set sail for North Carolina.

3. Crispus Attucks arrived in Boston at a tumultuous time.

The Stamp Act of 1765 required that residents pay taxes on paper goods—from playing cards to magazines to stationery—imported to the British colonies. Colonists resented taxation without representation and riots became widespread. The Townshend Acts, which taxed even more types of goods, followed in 1767 and exacerbated the colonists' anger. The Sons of Liberty, a secret group of American businessmen, organized a yearlong boycott of British imports. To quell the uprising, the British government sent several thousand troops into Boston, a city of 15,000 residents. Just days before the Boston Massacre occurred, a brawl broke out between British soldiers and the city's ropemakers.

4. The Boston Massacre was sparked by a dispute over a barber bill.

Boston Massacre print by Paul Revere
Detail of "The Bloody Massacre" by Paul Revere
Paul Revere, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

On March 5, 1770, a young boy began complaining that a British officer had failed to pay his barber bill. (The officer denied this.) When a British sentry began harassing the boy, a crowd of colonists—including Attucks—gathered at Boston's Dock Square and began harassing the officer in return. British reinforcements arrived. Tensions escalated. The colonists began tossing snowballs, pebbles, and wood at the soldiers. Suddenly, gunshots rang out. Six colonists were wounded, and another five died. Attucks is believed to have been the first to fall.

5. Nobody knows exactly what Crispus Attucks did during the altercation.

Some witnesses claimed that Attucks was the leading protestor and attacked the soldiers with a piece of wood. Others say he was simply watching, leaning on a stick. Regardless of his actions, two bullets ricocheted and lodged in Attucks's chest, killing him instantly.

6. The funeral for Crispus Attucks attracted thousands of mourners.

Attucks, along with the four other victims—Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr—were buried at Boston's Granary Burying Ground. The funeral procession attracted up to 10,000 people. As one contemporary wrote, "A greater number of persons assembled on this occasion, than ever before gathered on this continent for a similar purpose."

7. John Adams called Crispus Attucks the massacre's instigator.

Every British soldier involved faced the prospect of hanging, and John Adams—later America's second president—was tasked with defending them. During his defense, Adams claimed that the soldiers were acting in self-defense and called the protestors "a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molattoes, Irish teagues, and outlandish jack tarrs. And why we should scruple to call such a set of people a mob, I can't conceive, unless the name is too respectable for them." Adams claimed that Attucks was the instigator. The argument worked: nobody was convicted of murder. (Two soldiers were, however, convicted of manslaughter. As punishment, their thumbs were branded with the letter M.)

8. Crispus Attucks was later hailed as a patriotic hero.

Boston Massacre monument
The Boston Massacre monument commemorates Crispus Attucks and four other victims.

The public outcry after the massacre forced the British troops to temporarily withdraw from the city and caused Adams to lose half of his law practice. Three weeks after the massacre, Paul Revere made and distributed a print depicting the event; today, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History calls the illustration "probably the most effective piece of war propaganda in American history." In Boston, March 5 became a day of remembrance. According to abolitionist and historian William Wells Brown, "The anniversary of this event was publicly commemorated in Boston, by an oration and other exercises, every year until after our national independence was achieved, when the Fourth of July was substituted for the fifth of March." More than a century after the event, in 1888, a massive monument was erected at Boston Common to commemorate Crispus Attucks and the four other men who died. It, and the location of the massacre, are now prominent locations on Boston's Freedom Trail.