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article imageAfter suicides no 'Rome alone' for visitors to Nîmes amphitheatre

By Robert Myles     Feb 7, 2013 in World
Authorities in the southern French city of Nîmes, which boasts one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in Europe, have introduced a ban on unaccompanied tourists following a rash of suicides.
Nîmes is famous as a centre of Roman civilisation in France, with many historic monuments. It’s also the place that gave ‘denim’ to the world, the rugged cotton textile (de Nîmes) having originated in the city. But, over recent months, Nîmes has gained a reputation for something else — suicides, jumpers from the heights of its impressive Roman arena.
In just over two months, five people have attempted suicide by ascending the 2000 year old structure in the centre of Nîmes. The walls of the Roman arena rise to a height of around 100 feet (about 30,5 meters). In recent months, three people met their deaths jumping from the top of the 100-foot structure. One individual, intent on suicide, was talked down from the attempt. A fifth suicide attempt was made by a 22-year-old girl, who leapt off the ancient structure. Her fall wasn’t fatal but so serious were her injuries, she’ll remain a quadriplegic for life, reports La Provence.
Faced with an alarming trend of copycat suicides, the organisation charged with management of the Roman arena, Culturespaces, decided to act last weekend. They’ve banned anyone unaccompanied from visiting three ancient monuments in and around Nîmes including the famous Roman arena reports Le Figaro.
Staff at the Roman amphitheatre are reported to have been shocked at the series of suicides. Assistant head of safety at the Mairie (Town Hall) at Nîmes, Tibéro Richard, told he hoped the measures would allay concerns amongst worried staff, saying, “The staff was shocked, especially since one victim was very young, about 19 or 20. The staff have seen people enter, then half an hour later, they’ve learned that people have jumped.”
La Provence reports that after one of the tragedies, a receptionist at the Roman arena had been approached by a man who showed her photographs of a body. The receptionist thought it was an old suicide but it transpired that the suicide had only just happened.
More about French tourist sites, roman architecture, roman remains in France, nimes, Roman monuments
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