Half a dozen people have tried to kill themselves by jumping off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge this year, but the latest addition to this sad list managed to survive the impact. The bridge is 228 feet above the water, and five people have successfully killed themselves by jumping off it since last December, while another three were thwarted by police, according to the Staten Island Advance. The unidentified jumper who tried to commit suicide yesterday afternoon is listed in critical condition "but alive," according to Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe.
The man was pulled out of the soup by the NYPD Harbor Unit and rushed to Staten Island University Hospital. An NYPD spokesperson says he was observed getting out of his vehicle on the Upper Level roadway and then jumping off it. He did this despite suicide-prevention phones on the bridge which read "Life is worth living," and connect to 1-800-LIFENET, a suicide prevention service.
Regarding the phones, New York State Police Sgt. Jaime Alvear told the Times Herald-Record, “The phones give us a chance to get there. Most people don’t want to do it, so they pick up the phone.” An Op-Ed in today's Advance also cites a groundbreaking study on suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge, which found that a very small percentage (6%) of suicidal people talked down off the bridge actually went on to kill themselves. The researcher behind the study, Dr. Richard Seiden, found that "90 percent of them were having an acute temporary crisis; they passed through it and, coming out the other side, they got on with their lives."
In July, traffic was backed up for four hours as police talked a suicidal man down from the Verrazano. Here's chilling video from that rescue effort:
NYPD Rescue Jumper From Verrazano Narrows Bridge from Gothamist on Vimeo.
Update 2:57 p.m.: The man who survived the jump off the bridge has been identified as Lawrence Youshah, a 43-year-old Long Island lawyer who has his own practice specializing in "traffic matters," according to the Staten Island Advance.