The chalk cliffs of Beachy Head comprise one of the most beautiful places in England. But they're also one of the most notorious. In the last 40 years, hundreds of people have jumped, driven over, or simply strolled off this 535-foot precipice. What drives them to it and why did they choose this particular landscape? The quest to answer such questions inspired Hunt, a teacher still grieving a recent suicide in his own family. The result is a sobering and compassionate volume about the fragility of life.
Hunt's investigation leads him to the local police, the coroner, and the Last Stop Pub, where many victims drink their final pint before taking flight. He interviews bereft family members, taxi drivers who ferried victims to the site, those who recover the bodies, and a local witch who believes human sacrifices were once performed at Beachy Head. Hunt even speaks with a former hippie who survived his own jump. He studies files, suicide notes, and graphic photographs of the victims. Most disturbing of all, on a visit to the cliffs themselves, Hunt experiences firsthand the terrifying compulsion to jump. Part CSI, part travel essay, and part memoir, Hunt's riveting journey to answer the most important questions about life and death forces readers to probe their own tenuous hold on life, a hold deeply moored in things both spiritual and psychological. (Spring 2006 Selection)