Portland, OR.- The man threatening to jump from the Crowne Plaza skybridge today has gotten down and has been taken into protective custody. As this event comes to an undramatic close we can’t help but question – why Jump?
Yesterday, a man in Charleston, South Carolina threatened to jump from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge holding up traffic for several hours. Last week a man was detained after attempting to jump off the famous tourist attraction La Tour Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Believe it or not, the sudden urge to jump off a bridge or building is not rare and has been termed, by Florida State University’s psychology department as ‘high-place phenomenon’ – after conducting research on nearly 500 college students.
According to the 500 students asked about desires to jump, “about a third of the sample said they’d felt the urge to jump at least once. People who had thought of suicide were more likely to say yes, but over 50 percent of those who said they’d never considered suicide experienced the phenomenon, too.“
Pauline Wallin, a private practice psychologist says we experience the urge to jump “for the thrill, and as practice ‘for not buckling under to fear.‘”
Apparently lots of people experience the indescribable urge to jump or drive off a bridge. When asked, people who you would other categorize as ‘normal’ responded like this: “I thought i was crazy or suicidal. Every morning i drive a freeway where the interchange is a curved bridge, every morning i think of just driving straight which will lead me over the edge.. also driving in the construction zones where there are the cement barriers… i get the urge to drive straight into it.” Another woman replies: “I have felt this so many times and it scares me and makes me feel like I am a bit crazy. These fears were exacerbated when I became a mom and grandma. I knew I wouldn’t jump or hurt my kids but I couldn’t deny that I had this irrational fear that I would.” and “Yes! The higher up I am the more curious and stronger the urge to do it, what stops me is the thought that the feeling is not normal and am not depressed, why would I want to do it if everything in my life is fine?“
If you’ve ever had the thought to jump, you are not alone. Sometimes, people who actually get up on the ledge and end up with a rescue squad around the base and someone trying to ‘talk them down’ are literally just crying out for attention, wanting to be heard. Instead of labeling them as ‘crazy’ or ‘psychotic’ perhaps these folks just need a listening ear.
Researchers looking deeper into this pull explain that if we have an ‘urge to jump’ we equally possess an ‘urge to live’ – that the two come hand in hand. So, even if you’ve contemplated jumping off a bridge or a building, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The mere contemplation doesn’t mean you would do it, even if you go as far as stepping to the edge.
Those people who do taking on jumping sports, such as cliff jumping and sky diving report the adrenaline rush they get from taking a huge risk, as well as through the sensation of falling is addictive.
So when asking the question ‘why jump?’ we can acknowledge- simple human curiosity, a willingness to contemplate what’s ‘beyond’ and the romantic notion of feeling that rush of fear. By no means am I suggesting that any of you jump or pretend you will jump and if you are considering it – try skydiving. I just think it’s healthy, when another member of the human family steps ‘out on a ledge’, that we take a moment to reflect on how we are all more similar than we think and this person is not so crazy after all – just testing their limits.
In Portland, Oregon today – traffic is back to normal and no one is jumping – except maybe into a new adventure!
Written by: Stasia Bliss
Sources: NBC news; Portland Police Bureau Press Release