Safety First: Is the Thrill of Tombstoning Worth the Risks?
Some hikers plan on tombstoning when off to mountainous areas located along coastlines or rivers. Trekking along slippery cliffs is already dangerous as it is. Deliberately jumping off from a high cliff into the waiting arms of the open water below is even more dangerous.
Jumping off high cliffs is a practice common to surfers who want to avoid navigating through turbulent breakers. Surfers though apply caution by making sure the height from where they will jump is reasonable enough for a safe leap. Non-surfers who tried the cliff-jumping act were thrilled by the adrenaline rush, likening the blood-pumping experience as one that is similar to the thrills of engaging in extreme sports. The stunt then became known as tombstoning and went on to become a popular craze.
However, the alarming rate by which fatal tombstoning incidents and critical near-death injuries happened in the past 10 years, has raised concerns of government authorities. More so when they learned teenagers, ages 11 and higher, are taking part in tombstoning challenges. The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) describes tombstoning as
“a high-risk, unregulated activity, undertaken by unsupervised individuals”
Why is Tombstoning Branded as a Dangerous Form of Recreation?
According to the MCA, most of the outcomes of the hundreds of adverse tombstoning incidents they encountered yearly, often resulted to fatality; or to severe injuries that eventually lead to death, or to permanent brain or bodily damages.
The MCA explained that water depth tends to change along with the movement of the tide. The open water may be actually shallower, in which rocks and other formations are not immediately visible. Moreover, the shock of hitting cold water can stun, and make it difficult for the jumper to swim. In some cases, tombstoning divers unknowingly drop into strong currents that instantly sweep them away.
On its part, the British Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned any form of advertisements using tombstoning as enticement, when promoting a travel destination.