Weird History

The Story Behind Evelyn McHale And "The Most Beautiful Suicide"

Since the completion of the Empire State Building in 1931, at least 36 people have sought out the top floors of the building to commit suicide – with Evelyn McHale's jump being perhaps the most infamous. On the morning of May 1, 1947, just before 11 am, a traffic director who was working at the intersection of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue happened to look up and notice a white scarf drifting down from the side of the Empire State Building when, suddenly, he heard a large crash, and chaos ensued within the streets. He then followed a crowd of passerbys to a limousine parked along the curb – upon which the body of Evelyn McHale was found, having completed the "Most Beautiful Suicide."

Despite the eerily uncertain circumstances surrounding her suicide, it is not her death that has gained her such notable infamy, but, instead, the way she was found: softly enveloped within the wreckage of the car, ankles crossed effortlessly, and face serenely calm as she clutched her necklace in one white-gloved hand. The morbidity of the scene was forever encapsulated in one photograph, depicting the delicate tranquility with which this woman met her end.

However, the question remains: Why did Evelyn – a young woman who was newly engaged and who had a loving family – choose to end her life on that Thursday morning?