Niagara Falls is on my list of places I've always wanted to visit. And one day when I am finally able to make the day's drive up there to what is one of the most majestic spots on the planet, I'm sure the locale's other claim to fame will unfortunately not be lost on me: one of the world's biggest suicide destinations.
About 20-25 people commit suicide there every year, and yesterday saw it's latest tragedy: A middle-aged woman was swept over Horseshoe Falls, the largest and most recognizable of the three falls -- pictured above. How horrifying is that?
Authorities aren't releasing the woman's name right now, but the 51-year-old Canadian apparently didn't have to travel far like others have done to accomplish her deed. She lived right there in Niagara, Ontario. She must have visited these grand falls many, many times. Maybe with her own parents and her children, if she has any. Some of her fondest memories were probably made there. I know if I lived there, my kids and I would be visiting all the time. There is something undescribably magical about those falls and the power they hold -- at least what I've experienced in pictures and videos.
And well as something ominous and certain.
Surviving that 173 foot drop caught in 600,000 gallons per second going over those falls in the daytime would be nothing short of a miracle. She must have known that. Tourists saw the woman swimming in the river above the falls and get caught in the rapids. She was swept over the brink and plummeted to the bottom.
Imagine the horror of the tourists and their children aboard the Maid of the Mist tour boat which rushed to the drop point and several workers retrieved the woman's body. It was too late.
Between 1856 and 1995 there were 2,780 known suicides at Niagara Falls. Surprisingly, this ranks only about the third most popular site in the world. What beats it? Mount Fuji in Japan, which gets about 70 suicides a year. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco gets about 30 a year.
Everyone tends to think of popular vacation spots as the place to go when you are happy. You take lots of photos to bring home with you, to relive the memories and the wonder of nature again and again, year after year. Unfortunately not for all.
Image via Beth and Christian/Flickr