First off I want to state that I am against suicide and this post does not promote any suicide thoughts or acts.
I have been meaning to write a piece about this picture ever since I saw it and heard the story behind it which was nearly three/ two years ago. The most beautiful suicide; a picture that was captured by Robert Wiles who was a photography student at the time; of 23 year old Evelyn McHale who had just jumped to her death. This captured moment of a dead woman though sad, went on to be one of the best captured moments and is still talked about seven decades later. A story of a broken woman, who had just broke it off with her fiancé whom she later on wrote a suicide note to before jumping to her death. She wrote, “He is much better off without me. . . I wouldn’t make a good wife for anybody” which she later on went and crossed out. She then went over to the observation platform of the Empire State Building and jumped to her death. Her body landed on a Unite Nations limousine that was parked at the curb. Robert Wile (the photographer responsible for the shot) then heard a noise and when he went to investigate found Evelyn McHale who was laid down in the most beautiful way. Her glove hand gently touching her pearl necklace, her left ankle placed perfectly over her right one and the peaceful look she wore on her face almost as if she was posing for a photograph and not laying dead on top of a dented car with shuttered windows. She looked at peace, not in any pain or suffering.
Not much is known about Evelyn McHale, she leaved a quite life and I find it very ironic that in her death she became somewhat of an iconic figure that every artist is inquisitive about. Evelyn McHale didn’t leave much behind, in fact she was cremated and not ever a headstone has her name on it. Her suicide is said to be poetic; from the place she chose to jump from (Empire State building) to the way her body was laid out and the coincidentally fact that a student photographer was there to take this beautiful tragedy. She left behind only a picture and generated a number of questions. She went so quietly almost as if Charlie Winston’s “went quietly” was about her. Even though we will never know what drove her to end her life, Evelyn McHale’s death will be remembered for another seven decades.
May she Rest In peace.