Tombstoning is a high-risk, unregulated activity where people jump or dive from height into water. A number of tombstoners have been killed or seriously injured plunging into deep water off cliffs and harbour walls.

A 39-year-old man died in 2016 after jumping from a ledge on Plymouth Hoe. He had drunk a substantial amount of alcohol and landed on rocks before ending up in the water near the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. He had told his friends “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing” – he died of multiple injuries.

This video aims to deter people from being seriously injured, often fatally, each year through tombstoning. The video was produced with the help of school children and features Sonny Wells, a young man who was paralysed after jumping from a jetty in Hampshire in 2008. (Kent Police)

Why is it dangerous?

  • Water depths change with the tide and the water may be more shallow than it seems.
  • Submerged objects like rocks may not be visible
  • The shock of cold water can make it difficult to swim
  • It may be difficult to get out of the water
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away

ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) says:

Consider the dangers before you take the plunge

  • Check for hazards in the water
  • Check the depth of the water – a jump of ten metres requires a depth of at least five metres
  • Never jump under the influence of alcohol or drugs (and ignore peer pressure)
  • Check for access – it may be impossible to get out of the water
  • Conditions can change rapidly – young people may try and copy you.

The best way to learn about the risks involved and have a good experience is to try coasteering – a mix of scrambling, climbing, traversing and cliff jumping around the coast with a professional guide who is trained and qualified to instruct the activities and operates using recognised best practice.

For more information go to: National Coasteering Charter

RNLI Educational Resources

The RNLI has a number of educational resources on their website related to safety issues around the coast.

Lesson 1: It’s Your Choice tackles tombstoning specifically and is aimed at 11-18 year olds.

Please don't take the risk

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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