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The Bridge of Death

Updated on April 28, 2012

On the 25th of December 2011, tragically the 82nd person ended their life from this “Bridge of Death”. At only 37years of age this woman jumped to her death with the continuing question echoing from below, WHY?

Van Stadens Bridge

The bridge has a concrete arch and is 417 feet high/127mtrs and 417foot span/198mtrs.

A separate bridge in close proximity is the railway bridge.

It towers over the Gamtoos river in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, bordering the coastline between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, this being one of five such bridges en route.

The highest, being the Bloukrans bridge is the highest in Africa at a height of 220mtrs and claims the highest bungee jump bridge in the world.

The N2 highway passes over these bridges and the route takes in the beautiful Garden Route.

Van Staden’s bridge was completed in 1971 but unlike others, she draws like a magnet pedestrians who sadly never cross to the other side.

Since it’s completion it has earned itself the reputation for being one of the world’s most frequented suicide spots.

The death toll currently stands at 82. Had it not been for the police and general public a further twenty people would have been statistics.

In a desperate attempt to save lives S.O.S “Help” telephones have been installed on both ends of the bridge. Security video cameras have also been installed as a preventative measure at a cost of R1 million.

Suicide prevention advocates, believe that suicide by ‘Bridge’ is more likely to be impulsive than other means, and that barriers can have a significant effect to reduce suicides.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has had more suicides than any other in the world with a count of 1,200.

To my knowledge it is only the Van Staden’s bridge that adopted a new name “Bridge of Death”.

Overcome with Grief

The most heart-rending suicide was on October 15 2006 when a grieving mom, Rosemary Wait, 62, jumped to her death below : her only son Charles had drowned six years earlier in a rafting tragedy at the Storms River mouth in the raging Gamtoos River below the bridge – and she could not stop grieving for her beloved son.

Website – Support!

“Friends of Van Standen’s”

Their logo reads, “Building Bridges Saves Lives”

This website has been created by the Friends of Van Staden’s Trust with the intent to help people in needed support to prevent more suicides. All suggestions are welcome in this quest.

Police Support

Police from the Thornhill police station are always ready to help in any way possible with a specialist counseling team on hand for the bereaved of these suicides.

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    • profile image

      Kathy 

      12 months ago

      Christopher Wait was a victim of the rafting tragedy which happened on the raging Storms River NOT the Gamtoos River. Gamtoos River is below the bridge where his mother decided to end her life. He died in a freak accident 150km away.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thought you were just visiting SA this time - nice to hear you're actually staying! Haven't been to George in years, not since high school days (matric 1986) to run cross-country there - but yes, I do remember it as a pretty place!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Teresa, thank you for the welcome words to South Africa. My husband and I will be living here now so maybe we will meet one day should you be visiting the pretty town of George. Meanwhile I will think of you as my neighbour both on hubpages and country. Sharing your cold winter.

      Best wishes!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you for the votes and of course for taking the time to read this article. The sadness with these tragic deaths is also for the loved ones left behind isn't it?

    • DAWNEMARS profile image

      DAWNEMARS 

      6 years ago from The Edge of a Forest in Europe

      It is an extremely sad subject but you handle it so well here. Life is tragic and beautiful at the same time. Thanks for sharing this moving hub with us. Voted: up, beautiful and interesting.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Enjoy your stay in SA

      Goodbye, but come back to South Africa soon again - totsiens maar kom gou weer terug na Suid Afrika toe!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Teresa, it so happens that at present I am staying in George so near to you in East London. How nice to hear from you and of course the suicides from this bridge would not be news to you living so near by. Thank you for sharing this story with your followers!

      Totseins!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Brett, I never thought of a breakdown, now that would run chills down my spine!

      A waste of life is an understatement wouldn't you agree?

      Thanking you for stopping by and sharing this story.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      This bridge is about a 4 hour or so's drive from where I live in East London, South Africa. Beautiful pictures, but such a tragic story. Excellent depiction of this beautiful but sad place. Shared with my HubPages followers.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Thailand

      Not a place you'd want to breakdown at during the night! I guess people choose the places where they feel secure that they won't survive horribly injured, but still such a waste!

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      angelhelper, thank you for taking such a keen interest in this sad but true story.

      Van Stadens bridge is a link between the main centres in the Cape region making it easily accessible. This may answer your question and for additional info look into 'friends of Van Stadens' on the internet.

      Have a nice day!

    • profile image

      angelhelper 

      6 years ago

      What is the real mistery behind the van stadens bridge and where can I read more about the history of the bridge? Please if anyone have more info!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Dr Funom Makama, thank you for leaving such a complimentary note.

      Best regards!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Vampsdes

      I agree it has been an expensive outlay to install safety features to the bridge in an attempt to prevent more deaths but no cost is too high to save a life.

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      Have a nice day!

    • Vampsdes profile image

      Vampsdes 

      6 years ago from Missouri, US

      It is really sad that so many have ended their life with the help of this bridge, but it is amazing the lengths that they have gone to to help prevent people from doing so. Putting in expensive security cameras and posting of help lines at the ends is really great and show that these people do care. This was very informational, voted up.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      bac2basics, tammyswallow, Victoria Lyn, lovedoctor926

      To all who have kindly left a comment thank you. All your thoughts have been mine as well.

      Have a nice day!

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 

      6 years ago from Spain

      What a terrible shame it is when people decide their only way out is suicide.If only they were able to reach out and find the help they needed before resorting to this. Very sad.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for spreading awareness! Useful hub.

      This is heartbreaking! I just wished people would seek help to cope with their grief. Both the website support group and SOS Help Telephones are fantastic ways to provide assistance to those in need while at the same time saving lives because once these people know that they are not alone and someone actually cares, then more lives can be saved through suicide prevention.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Gosh, the pictures are amazing. The bridge is so high it almost makes me nauseous. Those who are suicidal know the reputation of the place. This is very tragic.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow.. 82 victims. That is unreal. That would be a terrible way to go. This bridge is really amazing. I haven't heard of it until I read this hub.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Hello Theresa, yes these lives lost are tragic also for the loved ones and for the authorities who could not prevent the suicide before it happened.

      Since writing this hub the incidents have increased, so sad!

      Have a nice day!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      billybuc, I also wish I had answers to such tragic endings. I feel for you having had friends end their lives this way as I am sure it leaves scars.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      How terrible that so many people have lost their lives there.

      Very, very tragic. The photographs are excellent. I am glad that the local people and authorities are willing to help. Interesting Hub. Theresa

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lady, I have known too many suicides in my lifetime and I am still shaking my head over the passing of friends in such a manner. I wish I had answers but after decades of thinking about this subject I have none.

      Interesting and tragic read!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Jamma, your idea of a high wire barrier is so lodgical but then there are so many bridges that would also need barriers. The railway bridge nearby is also a problem and a barrier may not be possible.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      How tragic that so many have chosen to end their lives at such a marvel of construction. However, I'm surprised wire barriers too high to climb haven't been installed atop the railings on either side to prevent such tragedies. I'd think that would be more effective than Helpline phones at either end of the bridge.

      Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Sad as you say but true!

      Thank you for taking time out to read this hub.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      How hard it can be for us who don't have the problem of severe depression to hear of those who do and find this action to be the only form of relief that they have.

      Thank you for reading my article!

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Yes, this is a sad story but I felt it had to be told.

      I trust your stopping by was not from a hospital bed but if it was I hope you had flowers to brighten your day.

      Kind regards and best wishes!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      6 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Sad story!

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 

      6 years ago from Finland

      I just had to read this hub. It really made me think about all unhappy people who choose to end their lives. So tragic and so sad. Good hub!

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 

      6 years ago from Sweden

      What a sad story! The pain and despair are so overwhelming at the point when someone wants to end their own life. My heart goes out to those people. Some are lucky to be saved before it's too late. For others there are no one to save them. Tragic story LadyLyell.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      These stats are certainly staggering. Many lives are saved though by the good work of the police and nearby community talking people out of making the fatal decision.

      Thank you for stopping by!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had no idea that the Golden Gate Bridge had so many suicides associated with it. Those are staggering figures! Sad about Van Staden’s bridge becoming associated with the new name "The Bridge of Death."

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      Thank you for taking an interest in these sad stats. When writing this hub I was sad to read the details of these depressed people who jumped as a last resort.

      Have a nice day!

    • profile image

      Sarena 

      6 years ago

      How scary that so many have ended their life on this bridge. I have crossed this bridge myself but never realized this. My heart goes out to all the families who have lost their loved ones. Sad news alright !

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 

      6 years ago from Mason City

      It is sad that people take their lives by jumping off bridges like the ones in your hub. Hopefully more lives can be saved through suicide prevention.

    • LadyLyell profile imageAUTHOR

      LadyLyell 

      6 years ago from George, South Africa

      I agree with you, this is not good news but a sad fact. What is positive is the fact that many depressed souls are rescued and helped back to a happy life again by the assistance of the local police and community.

      Your comment is appreciated, thank you!

    • Carmen H profile image

      Carmen Beth 

      6 years ago

      It's a really sad story that an amazing architecture has had to witness so many troubled events. In another sense it's like the Van Staden’s bridge is cursed. The story of this bridge and of the Golden Gate is not wonderful news to hear but thanks for sharing as it is always good to know.

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