Forever Falling

The Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge leads over the valley Pfaffenthal and connects the city centre of the capital to the main economic hotspot of the country on Kirchberg – seat of European Union institutions such as the European Court of Justice and core of Luxembourg’s financial sector. Nowadays, the giant arch is mostly known by the name Red Bridge because of its characteristic colour.

Since its inauguration in 1966, the Red Bridge has slowly developed a macabre history as many citizens committed suicide by jumping from the bridge into the depths of the Pfaffenthal. Between 1966 and 1992, officials counted around 100 suicides, which corresponds to 1 suicide every 3 months for 26 years. During the early years of its existence, the shocking discoveries of human remains by the inhabitants of the valley led to the placing of street signs to raise awareness for the possibility of disturbing findings.

View of the Grand Duchesse Charlotte Bridge, the so-called Red Bridge, from the Pfaffenthal Lift

To raise awareness on this neglected problem, the Luxembourgish film director Geneviève Mersch followed families that lived under the Red Bridge during their daily life and interviewed them on the sinister discoveries which they had made in their gardens. The resulting documentary Le Pont Rouge, published in 1991, was shown at multiple international festivals as well as in American cinemas and gained worldwide attention.

One year after the release of the short film, the Luxembourgish government decided to create security barriers consisting of acrylic glass on the Bridge to prevent further suicides, which were upgraded in 2017 to the height of 2.70 metres to prevent further suicides. Nevertheless, suicide attempts did not stop there and their anticipation remains an important topic.

Studies of the Ministry of Health officially counted 1,102 suicides in Luxembourg between 2000 and 2014 and jumping remains the second most used suicide method by Luxembourgish citizens. The analysis of the statistics of the ministry show that men between the age of 30 and 55 are especially at risk of committing suicide. In its continuous fight against this important issue, the Luxembourgish Government organised several prevention and anti-suicide strategies as well as information campaigns to raise awareness of this topic that is often intentionally ignored by modern societies.