How Many People Die from Bungee Jumping?

how many people die from bungee jumping

Bungee jumping has been a popular extreme sport for a long time now, particularly with young people travelling abroad. There have been many high-profile media reports over the last few years about people dying from bungee jumping, but how many recorded deaths have there actually been?

How many people have died bungee jumping? There were 18 recorded deaths from bungee jumping between 1986 and 2002. In more recent years, there have been 5 bungee jumping fatalities recorded between 2015 and 2018. Bungee jumping death statistics report a 1 in 500,000 chance of a fatality.

Average bungee jumping deaths per year

During my research into how many people die bungee jumping, I was only able to find statistics from 1986 to 2002 and then 2015 to 2018. Based on that, I found the following fatality numbers since bungee jumping was invented.

  • 18 deaths in 16 years: from 1986 to 2002
  • 5 deaths in 4 years: from 2015 to 2018

If you take those fatalities and the years, they spread across that equates to 23 deaths in 20 years. Therefore, there are 1.15 bungee jumping deaths per year on average that get reported in the press..

bungee jumping fatalities per year

How many people die from bungee jumping? It’s around 1.15 deaths a year on average.

I could find no recorded deaths from 2002 to 2015, but we have to assume that fatalities did occur during this time period.

Please Note: These are only “recorded deaths”. There could be more than this that I didn’t find that went un-reported due to them happening in foreign countries to non-US and UK nationals.

What are the chances of dying when bungee jumping?

Bungee jumping has had its fair share of media attention, especially with some of the tragic deaths that have been recorded since 2015 (you can see examples of those lower down the page).

However, the statistics actually tell a bit of a different story; there is only being a two in one million chance of dying. Compare that to other things such as driving, and we see the statistics below:

  • The risk of death whilst bungee jumping: 1 in 500,000
  • The risk of death whilst on a car journey: 1 in 20,000

In reality, bungee jumping is actually very safe providing it’s done correctly. The main cause of death will be human error.

Did You Know? Many states in America banned bungee jumping after deaths in the 1990s. Now there is a lot of legislation over how old you need to be to do a jump. I’ve published a table which shows each country and what the minimum age limit is.

The fatality risk of bungee jumping vs other sports

I also wanted to find out what the risk of death was in other sports, including some of the more extreme activities. This serves as a very interesting comparison.

  • American Football: 1 in 50,000
  • Base Jumping: 1 in 60
  • Boxing: 1 in 2,200
  • Canoeing and Kayaking: 1 in 10,000
  • Cycling: 1 in 140,845
  • Grand Prix Driving: 1 in 100
  • Hang Gliding: 1 in 560
  • Jogging and Running: 1 in 1,000,000
  • Motorcycle Racing: 1 in 1,000
  • Mountain Climbing: 1 in 1,750
  • Mountain Hiking: 1 in 15,700
  • Scuba Diving: 1 in 34,400
  • Skiing: 1 in 1,400,000
  • Skydiving: 1 in 101,083
  • Snowboarding: 1 in 2,200,000
  • Swimming: 1 in 1,000,000

And then to make you feel a little bit better about it, I even researched the chance of death in more everyday activities apart from driving (including a snake bite):

  • Air Travel:27 deaths in every 100,000 hours flown.
  • Motorbike Travel:45 deaths for every 100 million miles driven
  • Snake Bite: 1 in 50,000,000 chance.

Recorded deaths from bungee jumping

To calculate some of the numbers I used in the death statistics, I searched Google to see how many media reports I could find of fatal accidents.

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Here’s a year by year breakdown of some of the press reports I found relating to recorded bungee jumping fatalities from the last few years.

Recorded bungee jumping deaths in 2018

I was only able to find one recorded death in 2018 which occurred in the United States.

  • January 4 th 2018: A nurse in Colorado, United States, died when her harness disconnected on a 70-foot bungee jump attraction at the Get Air Trampoline Park. You can view the news report on Fox News.

Recorded bungee jumping deaths in 2017

No reports found.

Recorded bungee jumping deaths in 2016

As with 2018, there was only one fatality report I found in 2016, this time occurring in Brazil.

  • December 18 th 2016: Fabio Ezequiel de Moraes of Brazil died when he leapt off a railway bridge. The bungee cord looked to be too short, as he missed the inflatable mattress, instead hitting the ground. You can view the news report on Asia One.

Recorded bungee jumping deaths in 2015

2015 had another recorded bungee jump fatality with this report from Spain.

  • 21 st July 2015: Kleyo De Abreu from London died when bungee jumping in Spain. It was due to human error, with the media reporting she misunderstood the jump instruction and hit the wall of a bridge. You can view the news report on The Independent.

Conclusion

I am planning on doing a bungee jump in Thailand next summer, so wanted to get an idea on what the chance of a fatality could be. Yep, that’s how my mind works!

Sometimes the bungee jumps in foreign countries don’t have the strict health and safety controls you might expect in the UK and United States. Many of the accidents will occur due to faulty equipment, poorly trained operators, and getting the weight calculations wrong.

If you are going to be trying this extreme sport out on your travels, here are a few safety pointers to reduce the risk of harm coming to you:

  1. Only jump with a reputable bungee company company. Google them and see what other people have to say about the experience before you go.
  2. Does the company abide by bungee jumping regulations? For example, in Australia and New Zealand there are these rules.
  3. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it.

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What I learned about fear after bungee jumping for the first time

Bungee Jumping at Victoria Falls

A few months ago, while vacationing in New Zealand, I bungee jumped off the famous Kawarau Suspension Bridge, plummeting over 140 feet and dipping slightly into the icy cold water of the Kawarau River. Known as the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping and just a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, it was one of the most exhilarating, terrifying and important moments of my life.

As I look back on that day, continuously answer questions from friends and family about my sanity and review the photos and videos, I keep going back to what I learned about myself and about life in that short window of time. Here are the six things I took away from the experience.

1. Be kind and support one another — it goes a long way

A particularly relevant takeaway for the current moment, this goes way beyond bungee and is one I think all of us could do much better at every day.

When I arrived on the bridge where they harness you up, there were two women in front of me, one from England who’d completely psyched herself out and was shaking after standing there for 20 minutes. Another from Australia who’d just arrived, saw the other girl freaking out, and immediately went into her own state of panic. This didn’t help my nerves, but I was mentally ready. We all started talking, emphasizing what a beautiful place we were in, how lucky we were just to have this opportunity, and convincing ourselves that of course we could do this. Also, shoutout to the jump team who I’m sure deals with this regularly and was nothing but supportive. From there, the three of us jumped in succession.

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None of us had ever met before and we may never meet again, but for one short stretch of time, we were the support group that we all needed. Be kind to one another. You never know how much it might help that other person.

Related

TMRW x TODAY How this writer changed her relationship to fear and transformed her life

2. Trust the process

In a world filled with endless information, it’s easy to overanalyze and overthink everything. Buying a new car? Go read 9,000 reviews to see if you should actually get that model. Going on vacation somewhere exotic? Check the 1,300 listicles telling you what to do when you get there.

With bungee jumping, the longer you wait and the more you read, the more you’ll psych yourself out. Sometimes in life, you just have to trust the process (shameless nod to former Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie here) and take that leap of faith. When I saw that over 38,000 people jump off this bridge every single year, I’d read enough. I signed up, drove to the site and followed instructions closely.

Take a deep breath, jump, and trust that everything will work as expected.

For more like this, follow TMRW on Instagram at @tmrwxtoday.

3. When faced with a “what if,” just do it

There are multiple times in life when you’re faced with a “what if” moment. Should you ask that person out? Should you accept that new job? Should you travel across the world on a whim?

A few years ago, I saw a quote from famed Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung that said “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” That really stuck with me. There will never be a moment that I regret having jumped off that bridge.

4. Face your fears

Jumping off a bridge is terrifying. There’s no way around it. I’m not averse to heights, but I’d also never really contemplated something like this.

Fear will always be there. It will hold you captive and paralyze you if you allow it to. Bungee jumping forces you to jump — literally — in the face of your fears. When you shimmy out to the end of that platform and look down (I know, they tell you not to, but I did), you will be shaking inside. Push through it and the sense of accomplishment you feel will stick with you forever. (And that experience is a good analogy for how it feels to stare down and power through anything truly daunting.)

The writer, seen mid-jump.

The writer, seen mid-jump. Courtesy of Lou Dubois

5. Experiences can be priceless

It’s an overused cliché in travel these days, but experiences really do make a trip memorable. Spontaneously deciding to bungee is not cheap. It costs nearly $140 just to jump, and when you add in the photo/video package, that’s another $90. But you know what? It’s been months since I jumped and I still remember every moment as if it happened yesterday. When people ask me about the highlights of my vacation, it’s always the first thing that comes to mind despite many other amazing excursions.

If you’re inspired to try something that once seemed impossible, don’t rationalize your way out of it because of cost — it could pay off for months (or years) after you spend the $$$.

6. Take mental snapshots

Talk to many people who have bungeed and they’ll tell you that while the biggest thrill comes during the free-fall, that moment when the cord recoils and you oscillate up and down while hanging in mid-air is one of the most enjoyable moments in life. Time seems to be standing still as you spread your arms out and enjoy the moment before you’re lowered into the boat (at Kawarau at least).

I felt a sense of intense euphoria and accomplishment followed by peace and calm in that moment, and as my mind thought about what I’d just done, I literally started screaming from excitement. Every bit of what I mentioned above is so fresh in my mind that it might as well have happened yesterday.

While dwelling in the past or thinking about the future can often weigh us down, focusing on today and the now is what really matters most.

A.J. Hackett and the history of bungee jumping

Today, bungee jumping is a common extreme sport that can be found in almost every country around the world. But it must have taken some nerve to be the first person to attempt to jump from a bridge with nothing but an oversized elastic band strapped to your ankles.

New Zealander A.J. Hackett is often credited as being the originator of the bungee jump, but while he certainly popularised it and set up the first commercial jump, the history of bungee goes back a long way – probably further than you think.

Read Post  Why try bungee jumping? 5 reasons to take the leap of faith

pentecost-land-diving

Origins in Vanuatu

Bungee jumping was actually inspired by the ritual known as ‘land diving’, which originated hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of years ago on Pentecost Island – one of the islands that makes up the country on Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

The ritual came about as a part of an ancient story of a local woman who was being mistreated by her husband. The legend says that she often attempted to run away only to be caught and punished. So she came up with a plan and when she ran away she climbed up the tallest banyan tree on the island, tying a vine around her ankle as she made her way to the top. Her husband followed her in an attempt to catch her and bring her back. When she reached the top of the tree, the woman jumped to the floor and the vine broke her fall. She then taunted her husband, saying that he was too cowardly to perform the jump himself. With no vine around his ankle, the husband threw himself after her, only to fall to his death.

The event has been reconstructed ever since as the islanders build a tower and then jump from it as a means of providing their bravery and warding off evil spirits, including that of the husband who plummeted to his demise. It is believed that a successful Yam harvest can only be achieved if the ritual takes place.

Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club

oxford-dangerous-sports

In the 1970s, the first footage of land diving surfaced around the world. A copy of the footage got into the hands of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club – a group of people based in Oxford and London. These were some of the early pioneers of extreme sports and in fact they coined the word ‘bungee’ in reference to their first attempts to emulate land diving.

In 1979 members of the club visited the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol where they carried out the first successful bungee jump. However, it was seen very much as a niche activity that the club confined to its own members. The club itself had a policy of dressing in rather aristocratic dress and there was an element of elitism surrounding the group. It wasn’t until bungee jumping made its way to New Zealand that the sport gained notoriety around the world.

A.J. Hackett

While the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club may have invented the concept of bungee jumping as a pleasurable activity, it was then that A.J. Hackett and some of his friends who took it to the mainstream. Hackett and his cameraman Chris Sigglekow had seen the footage of the land diving in Vanuatu and had learned about the Club’s experimental jumps and they were keen to attempt it themselves.

Creating a stretchy elastic cord they performed their first jump from the Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland in 1986. The jump went exactly as planned and the two enjoyed the rush so much that they vowed to attempt higher jumps. Roping in other friends, they visited several other bridges in New Zealand before heading to Europe.

During this time they moved away from the system of using a parachute harness (which meant they jumped feet first) or an ankle-tie, allowing them to jump head first. A run-in with the authorities in New Zealand led to the police contacting Television New Zealand to put out a story warning people not to jump from bridges. However, this actually acted as publicity for Hackett and got people interested in the idea.

aj-hackett

Bungee had captured the imagination of the public and Hackett saw this an opportunity to explore the idea further. He attracted even more media attention when he managed to illegally bungee from the Eiffel Tower.

Hackett opened the world’s first commercial bungee jump site in 1988 in Ohakune, before finally setting up a permanent operation at Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. Today Queenstown is known as a hub of extreme sports in New Zealand and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year.

Bungee or Bungy?

It is interesting that there is no definitive agreement on whether the correct spelling of the word is ‘bungee’ or ‘bungy’. It is generally considered that Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club first created the term and their spelling was ‘bungee’. But in New Zealand, where the sports was popularised and commercialised, ‘bungy’ is the preferred spelling.

It’s usually considered that both spellings are acceptable, although in the UK and much of the world, ‘bungee’ is the usual way.

By Sara Bryant, independent content writer who consulted UK experience day specialist Into the Blue over some of the information contained

Source https://outdoorasaurus.com/bungee-jumping/how-many-people-die-from-bungee-jumping/

Source https://www.today.com/tmrw/6-things-i-learned-after-bungee-jumping-first-time-t175949

Source https://www.talk-business.co.uk/2016/09/22/aj-hackett-history-bungee-jumping/

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