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The Bridge of Death
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 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.