BEACHY HEAD - SUICIDE SPOT
Beachy Head near Eastbourne is a
dramatic and beautiful headline extending 535 feet above sea level.
But this area of natural beauty has a darker side. Beachy Head is
a well known location for suicide attempts.
For most of visitors every year, Beachy Head is a place
to escape, relax and take in the dramatic scenery.
But its history reveals a darker side. Since the 1600s
it's been a popular location for suicide attempts.
John Surtees was a pathologist for Eastbourne NHS for
John dealt with many of the suicide cases and estimates
that around 20 people each year choose to commit suicide at Beachy Head.
Mark Humphreys was one of them.
His story has a happy ending but at one point in his life
he was driven to the brink of despair.
reached desperation point and found himself at Beachy Head
No way out
Mark from Eastbourne was going through a difficult time
with his girlfriend and after a huge row he found himself at the edge
of the cliff at Beachy Head.
"All I could see was just this expanse," says
Mark. "It was pitch darkness and I thought how easy it could be."
"I was stood there thinking this is it. This is the
time for me to die."
Luckily for Mark, PC Trevor Perks arrived. Trevor had
known Mark for several years and immediately realised he had a delicate
situation to deal with.
|WHAT TO DO IF YOU
ARE FEELING DESPERATE
What causes suicidal feelings?
- Depression and other psychiatric illnesses
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Any emotional crisis such as the loss of
a partner, a close relative or friend
- Divorce or separation or other relationship
- Financial problems or mounting debts
- Serious problems or disappointments at work
- Serious illness
What you can do if you are feeling desperate
TALK - there is no substitute to sharing your
Talk to family or friends. Share how you are feeling
Contact your family doctor
The Samaritans is available 24 hours a day to
provide confidential emotional support: 08457 90 90 90
here for further advice
It's good to talk
Peter Bridgewater is the Director of the Eastbourne Samaritans,
the nearest Samaritan office to Beachy Head.
Many people who contemplate suicide feel unheard so it
is essential that they are listened to, rather than talked to.
In 1976 a telephone box was installed near the cliff top.
The box displays the contact details for the local Samaritans and the
Peter has received calls from the cliff edge.
Although the calls are often desperate, it is possible
to help the potential suicide victim by providing a valuable emotional
Peter insists that the important thing for those contemplating
suicide is to talk and allow time to reflect and consider all their options.
Over the edge
A 600 feet drop can be deadly and the task of following
up the fall lies with the Eastbourne Coastguard.
Thankfully though the task does not always involve remains.
Coastguard Steve Dann was sent out to a man who survived
a 200 foot fall and was still conscious.
Steve was sent down on a rope to make contact.
As the survivor awaited the arrival of the rescue helicopter
he contemplated his survival and happily lit up a cigarette.
Thankfully, PC Perks succeeded in convincing Mark not
Coastguards have to deal with the remains
Mark is now glad that he was persuaded to work through
Mark says, "I'm happy, I wake up in the morning,
I see my girlfriend, I see the children, I look out of the window and
look at the sun - what more could anyone want?"
For the Eastbourne Police and Coastguard, dealing with
cases like Mark's is part of the job.
Although not all cases end so happily, there's a great
sense of satisfaction when they succeed in talking around a potential
If you, or someone you know is having suicidal feelings
or suffering from depression or despair you can ring BBC Action Line on:
08000 934 934.
Or alternatively ring the Samaritans on: 08457 90 90 90.
Samaritans is available 24 hours a day to provide confidential
emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress
or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.
you are experiencing suicidal feelings click here for advice