Jumper (person)

A jumper, in police and media parlance, is a person who plans to fall or jump (or already has fallen or jumped) from a potentially deadly height, sometimes with the intention to die by suicide, at other times to escape conditions inside (e.g. a burning building).[1][2]

The term includes all those who jump, regardless of motivation or consequences. That is, it includes people making sincere suicide attempts, those making parasuicidal gestures, people BASE jumping from a building illegally, and those attempting to escape conditions that they perceive as posing greater risk than would the fall from a jump, and it applies whether or not the fall is fatal. Survivors of falls from hazardous heights are often left with major injuries and permanent disabilities from the impact-related injuries.[3] A frequent scenario is that the jumper will sit on an elevated highway or building-ledge as police attempt to talk them down. Observers sometimes encourage potential jumpers to jump, an effect known as "suicide baiting".[4] Almost all falls from beyond about 10 stories are fatal,[5][6] although people have survived much higher falls than this, even onto land surfaces. For example, one suicidal jumper has survived a fall from the 39th story of a building,[7] as has a non-suicidal person who accidentally fell from the 47th floor.[8] Suicidal jumpers have sometimes injured or even killed people on the ground who they land on top of.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Jumping makes up only 3% of suicides in the US and Europe- a much smaller percentage than is generally perceived by the public. Jumping is surprisingly infrequent because tall buildings are often condo or office buildings not accessible to the general public, and because open air areas of high buildings (i.e. rooftop restaurants or pools) often are surrounded by high walls that are built precisely to prevent suicides. Jumping makes up 20% of suicides in New York City and more than half of suicides in Hong Kong, due to the prevalence of publicly accessible skyscrapers in the cities.[6][15]

The term was brought to prominence in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, in which approximately 200 people at the point of impact or trapped above the point of impact in the North and South towers of the World Trade Center jumped to escape the fire and the smoke caused by the direct impact of Flights 11 and 175. Many of these jumpers were inadvertently captured on both television and amateur footage, even though television networks reporting on the tragedy attempted to avoid showing the jumpers falling to avoid upsetting viewers.

The highest documented suicide jump was by skydiver Charles "Nish" Bruce,[16] who killed himself by leaping without a parachute from an airplane, at an altitude of over 5,000 feet (1,500 m).[17]

See also

  • Autodefenestration, purposefully jumping out of a window
  • The Bridge (2006), documentary film about jumpers on the Golden Gate Bridge
  • The Falling Man, iconic photograph of one of the hundreds of casualties of the September 11 attack victims who fell or jumped from the burning World Trade Center[18]
  • Lover's Leap, nickname for many scenic heights with the risk of a fatal fall and the possibility of a deliberate jump
  • Suicide barrier, access-control fence erected at certain high places to deter jumpers
  • Suicide bridge, particular bridges favored by jumpers
  • List of suicide sites


  1. Kemp, Joe (March 20, 2011). "Miracle mom who survived horrific 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire was 'one in a million'". New York Daily News.
  2. Leonard, Tom Leonard (11 September 2011). "The 9/11 victims America wants to forget: The 200 jumpers who flung themselves from the Twin Towers who have been 'airbrushed from history'". Mail Online.
  3. "Attempted Suicide Horrors". Suicide.org!. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  4. Mann, L. (1981). "The baiting crowd in episodes of threatened suicide". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 41 (4): 703–9. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.41.4.703.
  5. Weckbach, Sebastian; Flierl, Michael A; Blei, Michael; Burlew, Clay Cothren; Moore, Ernest E; Stahel, Philip F (October 25, 2011). "Survival following a vertical free fall from 300 feet: The crucial role of body position to impact surface". Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine. 19: 63. doi:10.1186/1757-7241-19-63. PMC 3212924. PMID 22027092 via PubMed Central.
  6. "Jumping off a high building | Lost All Hope: The web's leading suicide resource". Lostallhope.com.
  7. Thompson, Paul (September 1, 2010). "Man survives after 400ft jump by landing on car". Telegraph.co.uk.
  8. Parke, Caleb (April 22, 2019). "'Thank God for the miracle:' Man who survived 47-story fall from NYC skyscraper recounts story". Foxnews.com.
  9. "Teen Dies After Jumping From 7th Floor of Parking Structure at Americana, Landing on Father With Children: Glendale PD". Ktla.com. April 2, 2019.
  10. "Man who survived woman falling on him from 11th story LA hotel room talks about ordeal". Abc7.com. May 19, 2017.
  11. "S. Korea 'suicide' jumper kills man on landing". Thestar.com.my. November 6, 2017.
  12. "Father killed after suicidal student lands on him". The Independent. June 4, 2016.
  13. "Toddler killed when suicidal man landed on top of him as he jumped to his death from eighth floor flat". Thesun.co.uk. January 2, 2018.
  14. "Family Stunned by Boy's Suicide Attempt That Killed Driver". Nbcwashington.com.
  15. "NYC #1 in Suicidal Building Jumping". Gothamist.com. September 7, 2010.
  16. Allison, Rebecca (21 June 2002). "Suicide Verdict – Depressed pilot leapt to death". The Guardian.
  17. "SAS Soldier dies in plane plunge". CNN World News. 10 January 2002. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013.
  18. Koopman, John; Writer, Chronicle Staff (November 2, 2005). "LETHAL BEAUTY / No easy death: Suicide by bridge is gruesome, and death is almost certain. The fourth in a seven-part series on the Golden Gate Bridge barrier debate". Sfgate.com.
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