Norway’s famed high rocky plateau known as Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) has attracted a record number of visitors so far this year, up more than 20 percent over last year. Debate continues over safety, though, and over how many visitors the landmark can accommodate.
Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that 205,000 persons have visited Preikestolen this year, up from 170,000 last year. A foundation devoted to promotion of the area high above the Lysefjord, Stiftelsen Preikestolen og Lysefjorden Utvikling, was delighted with the increase but also wonders how much traffic the area can handle.
“We’re getting close to an amount that will set off need for an analysis, and the political bodies need to get involved, too,” Audun Rake of the foundation told Stavanger Aftenblad.
Safety concerns rose again last month when aSpanish tourist plunged to his death from the steep side of the plateau, where there are no fences and a sheer drop of about 600 meters down to the fjord. It was initially believed to be a tragic accident and police finished their investigation without filing any criminal charges.
Several acquaintances of the tourist, however, have since contacted newsinenglish.no and Stavanger Aftenblad, pointing to what appeared to be a suicide note written by the deceased and timed for publication on social media after the fatal fall. Local police were made aware of the note and local sheriff Odd-Bjørn Næss confirmed there were indications that the fall was in fact planned.
Norwegian media rarely if ever reports suicides, which are prevalent but still largely a tabu subject in Norway. Editors also cite the theory that reporting on suicide can prompt copy-cats and lead to more cases of what’s called “selvmord” in Norwegian. Næss wasn’t keen on more coverage of the recent fall either, telling newsinenglish.no that he didn’t want to see a rise in suicide pacts or “cult” visits.
In this case, though, the local Stavanger paper made an exception because of the widespread debate over safety and whether the site should be better secured. Editors decided it was important that the possibility of suicide be reported, so that the safety debate wouldn’t continue on false premises.