website is linked to suicide attempts

Wednesday, 3 May 2000 12:47 (ET)
website is linked to suicide attempts

 LARGO, Fl., May 3 (UPI) -- After a woman plunged to her death from the
Skyway Bridge, an Internet site bearing the bridge's namesake came under
attack by suicide prevention counselors, it was reported Wednesday.

 Called the Skyway Bridge Jumper, the site is named after a bridge near St.
Petersburg, Fla.

 The site has a menu page that parodies song lyrics and features a Las
Vegas-style betting pool on whether a bridge jumper will hit a boat, rocks
or the water.

 The Sunshine Skyway Bridge connects Pinellas County to Manatee County.
Eleven peopled jumped from the bridge last year and two others took the leap
this year.

 Darlene Davis, 40, from Gulfport, Florida took the suicidal plunge on
April 17 after she reportedly logged on to the website. Six days later,
fishermen found her body.

  Following Davis's successful suicide attempt after accessing the website, 
the Skyway Bridge Jumper, was lambasted by the Florida division of the
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

 The site "certainly isn't helpful to someone who is suicidal," said Rene
Barrett of the organization.

 Davis' husband, Art, and her sister-in-law, Anita Hawkins, discovered the
website link on  Darlene's computer after the tragedy. Both then informed
Barrett's office of the its existence.

 Besides betting on where a jumper might land, Web surfers can bet on the
time and date of the next suicide attempt. They also hear a splash when they
click on to the "Skyway Bridge Jumper."

 Phil, 46, who created and runs the website, says that the "Skyway
Bridge Jumper" was created as a form of dark humor.

 The website has a disclaimer which reads "No matter what you read here,
please do not jump off the bridge."

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.