People Willingly Entering The Water And Drowning

escargot

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#1
I read about this in the early 1970s, in the Daily Mirror, with photos.

A young man who'd just graduated from Oxford or Cambridge was at an outdoor riverside party held to celebrate his success.

Suddenly he got up and walked determinedly into the river, fully clothed, and drowned himself before anyone could lift a finger. I remember at least three photos of him wading deeper and deeper into the water, until it nearly covered his head.

Nobody knew why he'd done it: he wasn't drunk or drugged and hadn't seemed depressed. In fact he was a successful graduate with a glittering future.

Does anyone else remember this?
 

carole

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#2
Reminds me of that 70s film 'Neither the Sea Nor the Sand' which ends with Susan Hampshire wading into the sea at Corbiere (Jersey) in a similar fashion. But she had a rather Fortean reason for doing so.

Don't remember the story about the graduate, though.

Carole
 

phi23

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#3
This reminds me of the untimely death of the great Jeff Buckley.

On the night of May 29 1997, he and a friend traveled to the local Mud Island Harbor, where Buckley spontaneously decided to go swimming in the Mississippi River and waded into the water fully clothed. A few minutes later, he disappeared under the waves; authorities were quickly contacted, but to no avail -- on June 4, his body was finally found floating near the city's famed Beale Street area. Buckley was 30 years old.
 

mejane

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#6
My Mum tried to do something similar in about 1973. We were on a family holiday in Hornsea (Yorkshire) and were all splashing around in the sea when Mum suddenly stood up and walked determindly further and further away from the beach and out to sea :confused:

Fortunately, Dad went after her and managed to bring her back. I was too young at the time to really understand what had happened (I still don't understand, for that matter!) - I just remember that she suddenly stopped laughing and playing with us and walked away. When Dad brought her back to the beach she seemed dazed and faraway, but then she just snapped out of it and acted as if nothing had happened!

I was talking to the old dears about this this morning (after having read this thread - no spooky coincidence there!) Dad remembers it clearly and says that it was one of the scariest moments in his life. Mum claimed not to know what we were talking about and quickly changed the subject.

I don't think it was a conscious suicide attempt (we pesky kids weren't that bad - honestly!). It was more as if she was possessed by something. Maybe she heard the song of the Sirens?

Thankfully nothing like that has happened again - but we did spend the rest of that holiday wandering around the moors, keeping as far away from the sea as possible.

Jane.
 

Altres

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#7
I remember staying at Iona Abbey on the famous (and decidedly scarey) island about 20+ years ago. There was a story about a woman visiting the island in the 1930's, who stayed in the abbey, sleep-walking down to the ocean and wading out to her death at precisely the point an ancient pier had been. Apparently many people have "seen" the pier but have woken up with the shock of the cold water before drowning.
 

wilbur42

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#8
On a similar but slightly different note, I have often puzzled over notices posted in Oxford colleges during my time as a 'student', asking for information about the identity/fate of a man seen stuggling in the river late at night.
Without recalling the exact details, I remember that the notice appealed for help in tracing the unfortunate individual, described as a young man in smart evening dress - possibly even black tie? He had been seen by passersby from a bridge - I assume Folly Bridge - and could not be rescued as following heavy rains the river was flowing too fast. I remeber thinking it odd that no-one had been reported as missing - hence, I assume, the reason for the notices - and never came across the outcome of this unhappy tale.
This would have been some time in 2000/1 - most likely in the winter although I'm not sure. Does anyone know??
 
A

Anonymous

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#10
Remnants of a mermaid ancestry?

Or something more sinister (been thinking of Lovecraft a bit lately, it might be affecting my imagination)...
 
A

Anonymous

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#11
mejane said:
I don't think it was a conscious suicide attempt (we pesky kids weren't that bad - honestly!). It was more as if she was possessed by something. Maybe she heard the song of the Sirens?
Perhaps behaviour like that inspired such legends.
 

Altres

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#13
I don't think so. For one thing it is usually only new age (sewage?) types that visit the Abbey, for their own reasons, so no great loss there. Also it makes for good mythology, and I for one am willing to risk the lives of a few more head-bursts. Alt
 

fayyaad

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#14
Reminds me of the legends of the rusulka....cant recall TOO much abt these lasses, but apparently they had a habit of calling people to watery graves of one sort or another. :eek!!!!:
 

EnolaGaia

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#17
I remember staying at Iona Abbey on the famous (and decidedly scarey) island about 20+ years ago. There was a story about a woman visiting the island in the 1930's, who stayed in the abbey, sleep-walking down to the ocean and wading out to her death at precisely the point an ancient pier had been. Apparently many people have "seen" the pier but have woken up with the shock of the cold water before drowning.
The Iona story sounds like the mysterious 1929 death of Netta Fornario:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/the-strange-death-of-netta-fornario.63133/

... except that Fornario died of apparent exposure on land rather than walking into the sea.
 

Ringo

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#18
My Mum tried to do something similar in about 1973. We were on a family holiday in Hornsea (Yorkshire) and were all splashing around in the sea when Mum suddenly stood up and walked determindly further and further away from the beach and out to sea :confused:

Fortunately, Dad went after her and managed to bring her back. I was too young at the time to really understand what had happened (I still don't understand, for that matter!) - I just remember that she suddenly stopped laughing and playing with us and walked away. When Dad brought her back to the beach she seemed dazed and faraway, but then she just snapped out of it and acted as if nothing had happened!

I was talking to the old dears about this this morning (after having read this thread - no spooky coincidence there!) Dad remembers it clearly and says that it was one of the scariest moments in his life. Mum claimed not to know what we were talking about and quickly changed the subject.

I don't think it was a conscious suicide attempt (we pesky kids weren't that bad - honestly!). It was more as if she was possessed by something. Maybe she heard the song of the Sirens?

Thankfully nothing like that has happened again - but we did spend the rest of that holiday wandering around the moors, keeping as far away from the sea as possible.

Jane.
That gave me the shivers.
 

amarok2005

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#19
Dr. Donald Omand was the minister at Christ Church, Oxford, who famously exorcised Loch Ness and the Bermuda Triangle. When he was ten years old, he noticed that his grandfather, "a stern Calvanistic minister," seemed to devote a lot of time to praying for sailors and others who depended on the sea for a livelihood. His grandfather explained it was because of something he called "Sea Madness":

"He quoted cases of men he had known who had been mysteriously attracted by the sea and had surrendered themselves 'impetuously and voluntarily to a watery grave.' It seemed that most of these victims were descendants of the Scandinavians who had settled in the islands, though later Donald learned that the phenomenon was known to the folk of the Western Islands of Scotland as well as the inhabitants of Orkney and Shetland."

Later the young Omand read a book called The Divine Adventure by William Sharp (under the pseudonym Fiona Macleod), which devoted several pages to the subject:

"He was watching a man ploughing. Suddenly he threw down his cromak. He leaped over a dyke, and ran to the shore, calling, 'I'm coming! I'M COMING! DON'T PULL ME -- I'm coming!' He fell upon the rocks, which had a blue bloom on them like fruit, for they were covered with mussels; and he was torn, so that his hands and face were streaming red. 'I am your red, red love,' he cried, 'Sweetheart, my love'; and with that he threw himself into the sea."

Alexander, Marc. The Man Who Exorcised the Bermuda Triangle (Cranbury, NJ: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1978), pp. 89-91.
 

catseye

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#20
That gave me the shivers.
Thanks to Scargy for resurrecting this thread - how fascinating!

In the case of MeJane's post, I was wondering how old the children playing on the beach were? That kind of disconnected behaviour is sometimes seen in women suffering from Post Natal Depression, which can onset later than actual birth. I would be curious to know whether mother had been suppressing symptoms but suddenly found herself overcome. Or alternatively, had found herself in charge of watching the children, packing the lunches, organising the holiday etc etc (in the frequent way that women take on an overload of tasks without really realising that it's not a holiday, it's just washing up in a different sink) and had just 'had enough' and wanted to demonstrate to her husband and children that she needed a little more care.
 

amarok2005

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#21
I could have sworn this "Call of the Sea" was a common phenomenon mentioned in all those paperback paranormal books of the '60s and '70s by the likes of Steiger, Keel, Bernhart Hurwood, John Macklin, etc., but searching around my personal library gave me nothing except a note in Harold T. Wilkins' Strange Mysteries of Time and Space, taken in turn from:

British Medical Journal, Aug. 27, 1955 (Vol. 2, issue 4938), pp. 564-565:

Amnesia After Swimming

Sir—I am prompted, by a newspaper article regarding a man who suffered from amnesia following a swim, to report three similar cases which occurred in my practice in July.

Case 1.—Professional man, aged 50, on holiday. No past history of mental illness; no undue exposure to sun; no confession to any unique mental strain. He had been swimming in the sea for about 15 minutes and when dressing immediately afterwards was seen to be disorientated. He made no complaint. His disorientation lasted for half an hour and he had retrograde amnesia for the whole of the period. Physical examination revealed no abnormality. Case 2.—Student, male, aged 20, working in a hotel while on holiday. No past history of mental trouble; had recently been under strain when taking examinations which he found difficult. He went swimming at 5 p.m. and had no recollection of events until he awoke in bed next morning. Case 3.—Housewife, aged 55, on holiday. No past history of mental illness; not under any undue stress; no precipitating cause discovered. She was noticed to be disorientated while dressing after a swim and had retrograde amnesia covering that period. Physical examination was negative.

Although the weather was hot and windless, none of them had been unduly exposed to the sun or had stayed in the water very long. I was at a loss to account for the illness, and I wonder if other doctors practising by the sea have observed similar cases.—I am, etc.,

Tenby J. W. FLEMING

. . . As you can see, this isn't quite the same as the marching into the sea phenomenon. Well, I'll keep looking.:fish:
 

catseye

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#22
With these cases, is there any indication as to where the swims took place - could hypothermia be a contributing cause? If swimming in this country on days when the sun is less frying heat, especially early in the season when the sea is still cold - fifteen minutes is quite a long time to be in, for example.

So would need to know where these swims took place to rule that out. Any signs of incipient hypothermia would, I should think, have gone by the time a medical examination took place.
 

Cochise

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#23
I think I've posted before that my Grandad had a superstition that staring too long at the sea was dangerous and you would walk in and drown. He died in 1964 (not by drowning) so I think the belief must go back further than that.
 

Ringo

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#24
I wonder if there is a connection to staring your mortality in the face?

Like standing on the edge of a cliff and having a compulsion to throw yourself off, knowing that it would be the end. Or at the edge of a train platform? We don't do it obviously but maybe staring at the sea produces the same effect. "All I have to do is walk in there and my life is over". I could imagine it becoming quite hypnotic to stare at the sea and ponder your mortality.
 
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escargot

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#25
I think I've posted before that my Grandad had a superstition that staring too long at the sea was dangerous and you would walk in and drown. He died in 1964 (not by drowning) so I think the belief must go back further than that.
My old dear told me as a child that it was dangerous to stand in a high place looking out - say in a high building or on a bridge - because you'd be tempted to jump.

Years later, when one of my nephews was about 10 we were out one day and he noticed a tall ladder leaning against a house. He said 'They should move that ladder in case someone goes up it and jumps off.' Sounds like it was a family belief!

(I found it ludicrous and didn't pass it on to my own children.)

They were talking about l'appel du vide, the irrational impulse to act dangerously. It's normal.

There's a song about it, to the tune of YMCA -

Young Man, there are leaves all around
I said Young Man! Eat a leaf off the ground!


OK, I read that somewhere, it's not a real song.
 

Frideswide

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#26
I have a memory of a true crime reconstruction 30 mins on cases over 50 years old. Late 1800s, early 1900s. Woman found standing in pond with only hat showing, attributed to dry drowning and the family were very reticent about it all - could have been suicide or murder or accident, she may or may not have been pregnant, there may have been a no good chap from a lower social class......

ring any bells with anyone? and does "dry drowning" actually exist?
 

Frideswide

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#27
They were talking about l'appel du vide, the irrational impulse to act dangerously. It's normal.
It is indeed. Also, autistics can have impaired risk assessment, seriously underestimating possible injury and the likelihood of it. Officially we are more likely to answer the Call. :( I include a few minutes on it in my orientation for newly diagnosed adults talk!
 

amarok2005

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#29
I believe Dr. Omand (see above) blamed "Sea Madness" for the Seven Hunters Lighthouse disappearances (too lazy to dig through his whole book today). Didn't the (still human-looking) Deep Ones feel such a call in Lovecraft's "Shadow Over Innsmouth?"
 

INT21

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#30
I wonder if there is a connection to staring your mortality in the face?

Like standing on the edge of a cliff and having a compulsion to throw yourself off, knowing that it would be the end. Or at the edge of a train platform? We don't do it obviously but maybe staring at the sea produces the same effect. "All I have to do is walk in there and my life is over". I could imagine it becoming quite hypnotic to stare at the sea and ponder your mortality.
Ringo,

Did you watch the film 'Margin Call' ?

The scene where the trader is sat on the railing looking down. And says something along the lines off ' It isn't that people are afraid they will fall. It is that they are afraid they will jump'.

Deep, still water also has a similar effect on people.

Often I look a pool, particularly at night, and think 'how nice it would be to slide in and swim across in the Moonlight (Yes, I am a bit romantic) . But I have to remind myself that I can't swim..
 
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