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SUICIDE FROM THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

by Aubra Salt - The Oregon Herald Sunday May 5, 2019    4:09 AM

Evelyn Francis McHale was a 23-year-old American bookkeeper who committed suicide by jumping off the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building in New York City on May 1, 1947.

She was the same age as my girlfriend.

I became interested in the story after watching a 16 hour documentary This week about the history of New York City.

Her body landed on the roof of a United Nations limousine parked on 34th Street.

The photograph of her body was taken just four minutes after she hit the car. The photo was taken by photography student Robert Wiles and has become the iconic suicide photograph, referred to as "the most beautiful suicide".

Still clutching her pearl necklace with her gloved hand, Evelyn looks quietly composed in death as though she was simply asleep. Around her, however, the broken glass and crumpled sheet metal of the car roof shows how brutally destructive her 1040-foot jump was.

Evelyn worked as a bookkeeper at the Kitab Engraving Company. She met her fiance Barry Rhodes, a college student who had been discharged from the United States Army Air Force.

On May 1, 1947, Evelyn went to the Empire State Building where she jumped from the 86th floor observatory. A security guard was reportedly standing approximately ten feet from her just before she jumped.

Her suicide affected many people, even me from the other side of the world, so many years later.

There are even music videos depicting her fall and parts of her life:

There are many others. Simply search youbute for her name, EVELYN FRANCIS MCHALE .

Her boyfriend said he did not notice any indication of suicide before Evelyn left. Detective Frank Murray found her suicide note in a black pocketbook next to her neatly folded coat over the observation deck wall where she jumped. The note read:

"I don't want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don't have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don't think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother's tendencies."

Obviously her wish for no one to see any part of her did not happen. Her ultimate demise and iconic photo has been seen by millions of people, published and used through the years as an exotic example of suicide in Hollywood movies.

One can only wonder what Evelyn would think of her worldwide notoriety after her plunge from near the top of the Empire State building.

Her body was identified by her sister Helen Brenner and, according to her wishes, she was cremated. There is no grave.

Evelyn worked as a bookkeeper at the Kitab Engraving Company. She met her fiance Barry Rhodes, a college student who had been discharged from the United States Army Air Force.

On May 1, 1947, Evelyn went to the Empire State Building where she jumped from the 86th floor observatory. A security guard was reportedly standing approximately ten feet from her just before she jumped.

Her boyfriend said he did not notice any indication of suicide before Evelyn left. Detective Frank Murray found her suicide note in a black pocketbook next to her neatly folded coat over the observation deck wall where she jumped. The note read:

"I don't want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don't have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don't think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother's tendencies."

Obviously her wish for no one to see any part of her did not happen. Her ultimate demise and iconic photo has been seen by millions of people, published and used through the years as an exotic example of suicide in Hollywood movies.

One can only wonder what Evelyn would think of her worldwide notoriety after her plunge from near the top of the Empire State building.

Her body was identified by her sister Helen Brenner and, according to her wishes, she was cremated. There is no grave.

Photo: Evelyn Francis McHale
Photo 2: Evelyn Francis McHale
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