Blog Assignment #7: The End

HY 3503 Suicide

As all things do, this too must come to an end.  The spring 2013 quarter is coming to a close and it is time to say our goodbyes.  It has been a very enlightening journey and I feel blessed that I got the opportunity to share all my wild discoveries with all of you.  I would like to thank you for going on this adventure with me though it was not a particularly happy or uplifting one, I hope you enjoyed it all the same.

HY 3503 ends the possibilityAt first when I chose to do my blog on the Golden Gate Bridge suicides it was really just curiosity more than anything that drove me to it.  I was desperate for answers and had to find out more about this tragic affair that has given the Bay Area of San Francisco such a darkened twist.  I expected that I would have a difficult time finding sources and other information to help provide evidence as well as give me a better understanding of the suicides and the jumpers.  However, once I started researching I found more information than I had ever thought possible.  But now I had a new question, how is it that there are all these occurrences of people committing suicide off of the Golden Gate Bridge and we still have people who are blissfully unaware.  I could not understand why I did not know more about the jumper problem on the bridge.  That is when I discovered that the problem was not about press on the subject, but the lack of awareness people have on the topic of suicide and the different components that factor into making that final fatal decision.  My overall goal for writing this blog is to lay out the stories and statistics of the jumpers in such a way that stresses their importance and most importantly prove that with this knowledge more people will join the fight for suicide prevention giving us a bigger voice to speak out and raise awareness on mental illnesses allowing us to save a life.

HY 3503 The more I began to research the more I began to realize that the issue is not about whether the citizens in the Bay Area care or not, but more about the lack of background knowledge that are unaware of that is causing these incidents to be disregarded and brushed off.  Starting out in my first post I explain that I have been paying attention and that the suicides are not going unnoticed by me.  I tell you that I plan on uncovering all the details behind them and answering all of the agonizing questions that leave us wondering and yearning to know more.  The second post discusses the approach that I chose to take to finding sources that could help me understand what message I wanted to convey to you all.  After I have set the basis for my topic, I start doing some digging and found that there is no specific time frame for my focus because these events have been occurring around thirty times each year since the opening of the bridge.  By the third post I had gathered up all of the evidence and history that I could find on the suicide occurrences and decided the direction I wanted to go with my message.  Once I have established all of my sources, I have a better grasp on the general reasons behind choosing the Golden Gate Bridge over any other location and I know roughly around what age and sex the jumpers are.  I go over the different options that have been discussed and debated over to help prevent others from taking that final leap over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge and lead into how we can make some of those ideas a reality.  So in my forth post I was able to give you a momentous amount of information on those suicides through my interpretation of the statistics, prevention plans and stories of the jumpers through interviews with their loved ones.  This is when I started to provide you with more visual material by using a documentary clip, statistical graphs and charts, and pictures that gave you something to connect with.  These visual connections allowed me to bring up the different reasons behind why the jumper chooses this heartbreaking act.  It also led into my fifth post that actually addresses all of the tormenting questions that we undoubtedly face when thinking about suicide and those troubled individuals who cannot find any other way to escape their pain other than taking their own life.  Each situation is different it does vary from each individual jumper, but it has been revealed that one of the key causes behind suicide is mental illness.  And the lack of knowledge that we possess refrains us from being able to help them.  In my latest post, I dive into the serious issues concerning me as well as others fighting for suicide prevention and more mental health awareness.  I bring up the importance that lack of information and knowledge has on our everyday lives by unraveling a specific survivor’s story I bring the topic of mental health front and center.

HY 3503 Dont waitMy approach to this issue was to add something to the cause that has not previously been thought of.  I added blame to the bystanders who stand by oblivious to the tragedies going on right outside their front door.  I added a new perspective as someone whose roots are in the Bay Area as well as the deep southern dirt roads of Alabama.  My take on the suicide incidences off of the Golden Gate Bridge is we can do more to stop them from happening.  Alone we are small and our voices are drowned out by everyday life, but together we are mighty and can accomplish this goal.  But I added even more than that, by writing this blog I did one of the most important things you can do as a concerned citizen I investigated and relayed what I discovered to raise more awareness.  It is another article for people to read and learn more about the problems that some people are facing every day.  Spreading the word through any form of communication is my major contribution to these horrific situations.  By providing more people with the information and resources that they need so that they can take action against mental illness they are able to help those who suffer from it.  By acknowledging that there is a problem and joining together to fight against it we can win this battle and keep more of our friends, neighbors and loved ones safe from that fate.

[1108]

HY 3503 You are not alone

Bibliography

Bateson, John. The Final Leap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Bulwa, Demian. “Golden Gate Bridge suicides up last year.” The San Francisco Chronicle. March 8, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Golden-Gate-Bridge-suicides-up-last-year-3390080.php#ixzz2U8UMiTRu

Camarillo, Albert M. “Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities.” Pacific Historical Review. Volume 76, no. 1 (2007): 1-28.

Documentary Addict. “The Bridge.” Documentary Addict: Watch Documentaries Online. Videofile. http://www.documentaryaddict.com/The+Golden+Gate+Bridge+Suicides-9258-documentary.html (accessed May 11, 2013).

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

Hines, Kevin. “Kevin Hines Story.” The Kevin Hines Story. http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

James, Scott. “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks.” The New York Times. August 26, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26bcjames.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Lynch, R.J. “The Bridge: Suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge.” Radiant Writing Blog. Entry posted March 25, 2013. http://radiantwriting.hubpages.com/hub/The-Bridge-Suicide-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge (accessed 13 May 2013).

McCandless, Peter, Sabine Krayenbuhl, Alex Heffes, Christopher Covert, Jim Black, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, Alison Palmer Bourke and Evan Shapiro. The Bridge. DVD. Produced and directed by Eric Steel. Port Washington, NY: Easy There Tiger, Inc., 2006.

Plotts, S. G. “Suicide in San Francisco.” British Medical Journal. Vol. 285, No. 6336, 1982: 189-199.

Rafkin, Louise. “Survivor of bridge jump advocates for mental health, safety barrier.” The Bay Citizen. August 20, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. https://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/change-agents/survivor-bridge-jump-advocates-mental/

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge Suicides Again Top 30 Deaths in 2012.”The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

The Golden Gate Bridge Foundation. http://bridgerail.org/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

Tweedie, Neil. “Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most popular site for suicide: ‘Just why do they make it so easy?’.” Telegraph Media Group Limited. May 26, 2012. Accessed May 13, 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/9289970/Golden-Gate-Bridge-is-the-worlds-most-popular-site-for-suicide-Just-why-do-they-make-it-so-easy.html

Blog Assignment #6: The Exhibition

HY 3503 View looking down

Hello all you lovely readers, I have some exciting news!!  The Hayward Area Historical Society is looking for some new and unique ideas for exhibits in their museum and has asked me for my input on The Golden Gate Bridge Suicides.  Cool, right?  I am just thrilled to have this opportunity and want to share my process with all of you.

My plan is to first give them a little background information on the bridge and the suicides.  The Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol that many people all across the world have come to associate with not only the Bay Area and California, but the United States as a whole.  Bay Area citizens are proud to claim it as one of the most iconic symbols representing America.  The beauty that it holds is captivating and people travel for miles just to witness the wonder, but there is a dark secret it also possesses.  San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is also known as the number one suicide location in the world.

HY 3503 Barrier Net coming soonOn average there have been roughly thirty suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge since its opening in 1937.  Although it is extremely difficult to be precise about the numbers we do know that it is gradually increasing each year.  A writer from The San Francisco Chronicle, Demian Bulwa wrote that statement in March 2012.  “Thirty-seven people killed themselves by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2011, an increase from the past few years, said an organization pushing for the addition of a suicide barrier on the 75-year-old landmark.”[1]  In her article she discusses that in the seventy-five year life span of the bridge there has still not been a constructive solution to these tragedies and the biggest reason for that being that there are not enough people are invested in this project.  If we can offer more insight about these suicides and somehow convey to the Bay Area citizens that these incidents are absolutely 100% preventable if we stand together against this fight for better suicide prevention and mental illness awareness then a difference can be made.  The Chronicle has very interesting pieces on the Golden Gate Bridge, the jumpers, the suicide prevention organizations, and the bridge patrol officers that attempt to save the troubled people every day.  This part of the exhibit could have newspaper clippings written on and about the Golden Gate jumpers posted on a canvas into a collage.  I would like to set up a station in my exhibit dedicated directly to the San Francisco Chronicle because they are very close to the matter they recognize the significance of the situation and tend to give a lot more time to the issue.

This location is a prime spot for those battling the decision to take their own life because it offers almost no plan for error.  However, there have been jumpers to change their mind in the midst of this traumatic fall and live to tell the tale.  Kevin Hines was diagnosed with a mental illness when he was seventeen and struggled every day with his depression and anger.  One day in 2000, he decided that there was no other way out of his depression but to find escape through jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge and ending his life.  When he got to the bridge he was in a terrible state; crying, confused and just broken inside.  He told himself that if just one person showed him compassion that he would change his mind, but when a German tourist asked him to take a picture for her and did not even acknowledge the fact that he was completely distraught and ask if he was alright it was the last straw.  He hurled himself over the edge and his first thought was that he did not want to die.  Within the four second 220 ft. drop, Kevin managed to position himself in such a manner that allowed him to survive the treacherous fate that so many others have chosen.  Now he is one of the biggest advocates for suicide prevention and mental health awareness.  “He is the sole survivor actively spreading the message of living mentally well and the prevention of suicide.”[2]  That has been my biggest goal in writing this blog and so I definitely want to have a part of my exhibit dedicated to Kevin Hines and his story.  In this part of the exhibit, I would like to have Kevin Hines’s story, pictures of before and after portraying his fight to raise awareness about mental illness.

HY 3503 Kevin Hines, jumped 2000 and survivedKevin Hines has taken action since his suicide attempt, action against mental illness.  He has made it his mission to educate people on mental health issues and show them how important it is to be aware of them.  People with mental illness are no different than anyone else in the fact that they are still people and they have problems like everyone else.  The difference is that their problems are amplified by an illness that sometimes can overpower them and render them helpless.  By raising awareness on this issue we can help them fight back and take charge of the situation.  Kevin not only speaks out about mental illness, but he has a website, blog and is a major supporter of suicide prevention organizations. “As an advisory board member of The Bridge Rail Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ending suicides from the Golden Gate, Hines also works to raise the estimated $50 million needed to install a net under the bridge.  Congress recently passed a federal transportation bill that might release some money that could be used for the project, but the funding isn’t certain.”[3]  With the help from these organizations, he is able to spread his story and inform the nation that those struggling with mental illness are not alone and there is hope.  The knowledge that he provides us with can help to preserve more lives of jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge.  “It is possible to live well with a serious Mental Health Issue.  It takes a great deal of hard work and dedication.  But first and foremost, it takes complete acceptance of your particular Mental Health Condition, to finally Live Mentally Well.  It is my life’s work to reach out to all communities and speak up and often about my battle with Bipolar Disorder.  It is my goal to help those suffering find help and commit to some form of effective treatment plan.  I want to help give everyone the ability to find hope for their future.”[4]  I hope to use Kevin Hines’s message and inspiration to encourage more people to join the fight against mental illness by adding his story, interviews, pictures, blogs, and speeches to my exhibit.

An interesting interview with Kevin by Louise Rafkin written in the Bay Citizen discussed how there has always been complications with suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge.  “Within months of opening in 1937, there was a suicide from the bridge.  The numbers grew over time.  Now, the estimated number of suicides is about three per month.  As of the end of 2011, 1,558 people had jumped from the bridge in the past 75 years, though Hines says the number might be closer to double that. Some bodies wash out to sea or are eaten by fish, he said.”[5]   While going over the approach to educate more people about mental illness, it is brought to our attention that plans have been reviewed for a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, but never executed.  This being mainly because of financial issues that derives from lack of priority.  Since people are blind or know little about the mental health issues that relate to the problem they are less concerned with the issue and therefore it becomes marked as something of little to no importance.  My exhibit will show a 3D model of the bridge with the barrier that is proposed with a description offering more information about the reasons that this prevention plan is vital to not only the jumpers, but the Bay Area as a whole.  By not doing everything that it can to prevent these situations from happening the Bay Area is partially responsible for these suicides.

HY 3503 Mental Health AwarenessI want the main part of my exhibit to be about mental health awareness and suicide prevention incorporating the documentary, The Bridge and some quotes and statistics from the book The Final Leap into the mix as well.  I would like for people to be able to connect with those who have jumped as well as the families and friends who were affected by their heart wrenching decision, in hopes that they will realize that those who knew the jumper are not the only ones who suffer.  And also to show people that there are options that we have yet to try, but we need more help putting them into action. People who suffer from mental illness are not the only ones who chosen this escape, but they do make up a vast majority and if we can take steps to raise awareness and make a change then hopefully we can save some lives.  We need to be more aware of what is going on around us in our community.  Knowledge in mental illness can help in more ways than one; it can help raise awareness and funds, add more people to the cause, bring back the famous glamor to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, and help those who have lost loved ones find closure and peace.  This exhibit can do all of these things, but we need help.  There is power in numbers.

[1284]

Bibliography

Bateson, John. The Final Leap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Bulwa, Demian. “Golden Gate Bridge suicides up last year.” The San Francisco Chronicle. March 8, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Golden-Gate-Bridge-suicides-up-last-year-3390080.php#ixzz2U8UMiTRu

Camarillo, Albert M. “Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities.” Pacific Historical Review. Volume 76, no. 1 (2007): 1-28.

Documentary Addict. “The Bridge.” Documentary Addict: Watch Documentaries Online. Videofile. http://www.documentaryaddict.com/The+Golden+Gate+Bridge+Suicides-9258-documentary.html (accessed May 11, 2013).

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

Hines, Kevin. “Kevin Hines Story.” The Kevin Hines Story. http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

James, Scott. “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks.” The New York Times. August 26, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26bcjames.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Lynch, R.J. “The Bridge: Suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge.” Radiant Writing Blog. Entry posted March 25, 2013. http://radiantwriting.hubpages.com/hub/The-Bridge-Suicide-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge (accessed 13 May 2013).

McCandless, Peter, Sabine Krayenbuhl, Alex Heffes, Christopher Covert, Jim Black, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, Alison Palmer Bourke and Evan Shapiro. The Bridge. DVD. Produced and directed by Eric Steel. Port Washington, NY: Easy There Tiger, Inc., 2006.

Plotts, S. G. “Suicide in San Francisco.” British Medical Journal. Vol. 285, No. 6336, 1982: 189-199.

Rafkin, Louise. “Survivor of bridge jump advocates for mental health, safety barrier.” The Bay Citizen. August 20, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. https://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/change-agents/survivor-bridge-jump-advocates-mental/

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge Suicides Again Top 30 Deaths in 2012.”The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

The Golden Gate Bridge Foundation. http://bridgerail.org/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

Tweedie, Neil. “Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most popular site for suicide: ‘Just why do they make it so easy?’.” Telegraph Media Group Limited. May 26, 2012. Accessed May 13, 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/9289970/Golden-Gate-Bridge-is-the-worlds-most-popular-site-for-suicide-Just-why-do-they-make-it-so-easy.html

End Notes


[1] Demian Bulwa, “Golden Gate Bridge suicides up last year,” The San Francisco Chronicle, March 8, 2012.

[2] Kevin Hines, “Kevin Hines Story,” http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

[3] Louise Rafkin, “Survivor of bridge jump advocates for mental health, safety barrier,” The Bay Citizen, August 20, 2012.

[4] Kevin Hines, “Kevin Hines Story,” http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/ (Accessed May 23, 2013).

[5] Louise Rafkin, “Survivor of bridge jump advocates for mental health, safety barrier,” The Bay Citizen, August

20, 2012.

Blog Assignment #5: Pulling It All Together

HY 3503 Jeremiah 29-11

Hello again! So this is the point where I tell you more about why researching about suicides of off the Golden Gate Bridge is so important and how being knowledgeable on these incidents can help benefit you.  First of all knowledge is power and by that I mean that anything that you learn and therefor know about adds to your intelligence and gives you a sense of power.  That is why I personally feel that you should take every opportunity to learn about something you do not already know about.

That being said, the Bay Area is home to some remarkable history and some of it has gone as far as impacting the nation, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of those historic events.  It is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States and is considered to be one of the wonders of the modern world, but people often leave out that it is one of the most infamous suicide spots in the world.  “The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful and most photographed structures in the world.  It is also the most deadly.”[1]  That is why I have chosen this as my topic because I think it is not talked about enough.  People may have heard of the jumpers and the happenings on the bridge, but what do they really know about it?  Who are these people?  Why do they choose to end their lives?  How old are these people?  Are they mentally ill?  Why the Golden Gate Bridge?  Why do most of them choose to face the city as they jump?  Why a bridge at all?  What is being done to prevent them from happening?  All of these questions and more are running through my mind while I am researching and intently trying to find the answers.

HY 3503 BookIn my last post I discussed a documentary that I had watched about the jumpers.   Today, I would like to introduce a book that I discovered by John Bateson, The Final Leap.  It is a book devoted to the Golden Gate Bridge and the heartbreaking tragedies that occur there.  Bateson provides an enormous amount of information about the suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge that until then had not been brought to light.  One thing that I found most interesting was a quote he used from a chief engineer, Joseph Strauss, on the bridge in 1936.  He says, “The Golden Gate Bridge is practically suicide proof.  Suicide from the bridge is neither possible nor probable.”[2]  That engineer could not have been more wrong seeing as there have been over 1,500 jumpers since its opening in 1937.  Bateson goes on to talk about different types of suicide jumpers, the background of the bridge, those who have survived the fall, the talk of a safety net, those who patrol the bridge, and the barrier debate.  “While every other international landmark that once was a site of frequent suicide attempts now has a suicide barrier, the Golden Gate Bridge does not.”[3]  The barrier is a huge topic of interest among those who are familiar with the suicides off of the bridge and adamant about doing more to stop them.  He mentions the blindness to the suicides even as close as those in the Bay Area. “A lot of people in the Bay Area would have no idea that the bridge has been the setting for such a huge number of suicides.  The people who run the bridge have no desire to publicize the reality of the situation.”[4]  The cold truth is that a lot of people either do not want to bring it up or feel that it is not their problem and ignore what is going on.

Neil Tweedie wrote an article, Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most popular site for suicide: ‘Just why do they make it so easy?’ that comments on Bateson’s book and how in seventy-five years of existence this has managed to go on without any real action being taken.  Yes, there are policemen that patrol the bridge and do the best that they can to try and catch jumpers before it is too late, but these events are still happening and something more needs to be done.  “In its 75th year, death takes the shine off the Golden Gate. It was a jumper who pointed out the blindingly obvious. “Why,” he asked in his final note, ‘why do they make it so easy?’”[5]  Why do we make it so easy?  Is that a good enough excuse?  Does that even matter?  These are some more questions that are brought up while I am searching for answers.  Tweedie agrees with Bateson that things have gone too far for too long and it is high-time that something major is done.

HY 3503 Prevent suicide

Maybe raising awareness is a part of that process.  By writing this blog, I am attempting to do just that.  There are options out there that we have not tried yet that others have and have been working effectively and efficiently.  So why not us?  That is why this is specifically important to the Bay Area because we have yet to take a better course of action to prevent these troubled people from taking their own life.  We are making it easy for them to jump and to me that makes us a little more responsible than I would like to be.  I want to know that we have done everything that we possibly could have to safe that person’s life.   

[956]

Bibliography

Bateson, John. The Final Leap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Camarillo, Albert M. “Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities.” Pacific Historical Review. Volume 76, no. 1 (2007): 1-28.

Documentary Addict. “The Bridge.” Documentary Addict: Watch Documentaries Online. Videofile. http://www.documentaryaddict.com/The+Golden+Gate+Bridge+Suicides-9258-documentary.html (accessed May 11, 2013).

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

James, Scott. “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks.” The New York Times. August 26, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26bcjames.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Lynch, R.J. “The Bridge: Suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge.” Radiant Writing Blog. Entry posted March 25, 2013. http://radiantwriting.hubpages.com/hub/The-Bridge-Suicide-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge (accessed 13 May 2013).

McCandless, Peter, Sabine Krayenbuhl, Alex Heffes, Christopher Covert, Jim Black, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, Alison Palmer Bourke and Evan Shapiro. The Bridge. DVD. Produced and directed by Eric Steel. Port Washington, NY: Easy There Tiger, Inc., 2006.

Plotts, S. G. “Suicide in San Francisco.” British Medical Journal. Vol. 285, No. 6336, 1982: 189-199.

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge Suicides Again Top 30 Deaths in 2012.”The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

Tweedie, Neil. “Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most popular site for suicide: ‘Just why do they make it so easy?’.” Telegraph Media Group Limited. May 26, 2012. Accessed May 13, 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/9289970/Golden-Gate-Bridge-is-the-worlds-most-popular-site-for-suicide-Just-why-do-they-make-it-so-easy.html

End Notes


[1] John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 1.

[2] John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 23.

[3] John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 7.

[4] John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 80.

[5] Neil Tweedie, “Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most popular site for suicide: ‘Just why do they make it soeasy?’,” Telegraph Media Group Limited (May 2012).

Blog Assignment #4: Get Out There!

HY 3503 Suicide is 100% preventable

For my blog this week I got to watch a movie/documentary and search through loads of statistics on the Golden Gate Bridge suicides.  So I am warning you in advance that this blog is going to be a little more graphic and disturbing than my previous ones.  As I stated in my last post I find it hard to truly differentiate between primary and secondary sources for this particular topic.  However, by watching these video clips and analyzing the statistics and data I found I discovered plenty of information and great stuff to add to my blogs.  The majority of my sources were found online, but I have found some books and even purchased the film The Bridge that I touched on in my last post.

I started by using the CSUEB library website and once I was convinced that I had found all the useful and relevant information, I turned my

Suicide prevention message on the Golden Gate ...

Suicide prevention message on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

search to Google where I found a number of reputable online newspaper articles, charts and other statistical information that I plan to incorporate in my research for this blog.  Some primary sources that I have uncovered include newspaper articles from papers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post as well as a news report from Fox News that aired just last week!  Other primary sources that I have found are two article/testimony/interview/ from Kevin Hines, a person who jumped and lived to tell about it and is now a major advocate for suicide prevention the safety net barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.  I have also been lucky enough to find some secondary sources as well like; an article by the Telegraph Media Group, an article written by a junior doctor, and a website designed by a suicide prevention organization.  But what I am most excited about is my discovery of a book, The Final Leap written by John Bateson just last year about the Golden Gate Bridge and its infamous suicide jumpers.

I have not yet been able to dissect each one of them, but I have skimmed through The Final Leap and read the online newspaper articles and news report from Fox News.  I plan on using these sources to give my readers more insight into the issue we are facing with bridge jumpers.  I realize that it ultimately comes down to that one persons’ private decision, but I feel that if more people are aware of the situation and knowledgeable in that area then we can get more people involved, raise awareness, and hopefully that will help to lower the suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge.

While doing my research, I also learned more interesting things about the background of the Golden Gate Bridge and how the bulk of it was built by Chinamen and other minority groups.  According to Camarillo in his article Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities those minorities are turning into the majority and steadily increasing and it credited mainly to the historical developments that once defined California’s “cities of color”[1] as a set-back or inconvenience.  “In many ways, the rapidly emerging minority-majority cities and suburbs represent old patterns (i.e., the long history of neighborhood change as established groups move out and are replaced by newer groups) with new twists, but they also reflect altogether new patterns in urban history.”[2]  Over the years history has proven to repeat itself and teach us a lesson.  That is why we study it and regard it so attentively because we hope to come up with a different result this time around.

Camarillo’s approach to his article reminded me a lot of the approach Eric Steel when making the film The Bridge.  They both were very efficient

Cover of "The Bridge"

Cover of The Bridge

in collecting a lot of oral interviews in supporting their evidence.  Eric Steel obviously had a number of people contributing to the success of his documentary such as the cinematographers and music supervisors, but his job was to mesh those all together to relay a message to the rest of the world that was not holding enough weight.  His message was not only for the depressed or mentally ill people contemplating suicide, but for those who are innocent by standers as well as loved ones in this tragedy ridden decision.  By purchasing the DVD instead of strictly watching it online (like the post I have on my page) I was able to see the DVD extras which provided me with even more information about the jumpers and the process and approach that they took while creating this documentary.  He gave detailed accounts of several different suicides that occurred on the Golden Gate Bridge up to that date and told them in a way that people could relate.  He showed footage from the bridge of people jumping, interviews with friends and family members and each one of those circumstances were different from the others.  Some were mentally unstable and the people close to them were not at all surprised by the news of their loved one jumping from the bridge, others were blown away by the news, some were foiled in their attempt to end their life, one even realized as soon as he let go that he did not want to die and he managed to survive the impact.  Most of these instances did relate back to a mental disease of some kind, but that is not always the case.  People choose suicide as an escape from their life and sometimes the reasons behind the struggles that person are not as simple as black and white.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>The Bridge Documentary<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

The statistics, charts and other data that I discovered was also found online on a website/hub sort of blog by a girl named R.J. Lynch.  In her article she provides you with a number of charts, videos and pictures and really just showed me up.  So I decided to incorporate more of these things into my blog as well and step it up a little and add some charts, videos and pictures of my own.  This particular source did give me some good information, but it really acted as a guide to what I my work really should look like.  So I mainly used her page as inspiration as well as a good source for finding efficient charts and statistics which I was having some trouble with before I stumbled upon this page.  This particular person has written two articles that relate to my topic choice and I have been able to read them over and derive my argument and overall main thesis from the information that I collected from there as well as support other evidence that I have found through other sources while on my journey to save the world one blog post at a time.  I apologize for the small print on the charts.  I was unable to make them any bigger on my blog post for some reason.  The chart on the left discussing the different locations that people commit suicide and how bridges are usually the prime location for suicides, the chart on the right is taken from studies by the San Francisco Chronicle and it goes over the suicide rates from the beginning when the bridge was first built in 1937 until 2005, and the bottom graph is another suicides by location but this chart shows the locations on the Golden Gate Bridge specifically and it is also created by the San Francisco Chronicle.

HY 3503 Suicides by location 2 HY 3503 Statistics HY 3503 Suicides by location

[1193]

Bibliography

Camarillo, Albert M. “Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities.” Pacific Historical Review. Volume 76, no. 1 (2007): 1-28.

Documentary Addict. “The Bridge.” Documentary Addict: Watch Documentaries Online. Videofile. http://www.documentaryaddict.com/The+Golden+Gate+Bridge+Suicides-9258-documentary.html (accessed May 11, 2013).

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

James, Scott. “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks.” The New York Times. August 26, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26bcjames.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Lynch, R.J. “The Bridge: Suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge.” Radiant Writing Blog. Entry posted March 25, 2013. http://radiantwriting.hubpages.com/hub/The-Bridge-Suicide-on-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge (accessed 13 May 2013).

McCandless, Peter, Sabine Krayenbuhl, Alex Heffes, Christopher Covert, Jim Black, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, Alison Palmer Bourke and Evan Shapiro. The Bridge. DVD. Produced and directed by Eric Steel. Port Washington, NY: Easy There Tiger, Inc., 2006.

Plotts, S. G. “Suicide in San Francisco.” British Medical Journal. Vol. 285, No. 6336, 1982: 189-199.

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge Suicides Again Top 30 Deaths in 2012.”The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

End Notes


[1] Camarillo, “Cities of Color: The New Racial Frontier in California’s Minority-Majority Cities”

[2] Ibid

Blog Assignment #3: The Historical Conversation

Primary and Secondary sources for my topic are tough to differentiate because suicides on the Gold Gate Bridge are unfortunately an ongoing occurrence.  So I have decided that I will just group them where I think they fit.  I have tried to find documents, records and statistics about past jumpers as well as current so that I can compare them and make my own interpretation of these tragedies.  Thankfully, I have found an immense about of source to back up my research and I have not stopped yet.  Along with the articles, blogs and documentaries I have found on the internet I have also discovered a movie that was released in 2007 that has actual recordings of suicides and interviews with family members as well as witness to these heartbreaking decisions.  I purchased it on amazon and it should be here by Friday so I hope to discuss my interpretation on that in my next blog.  Also, my incredible mother has informed me that she knows people on the San Francisco Police Force and is going to try and arrange for me to look at some police reports from the jumps.

The sources that I am introducing in this blog are from an article in “New York Times” posted in 2011 and a personal paper posted in 1982 by a historian in the British Medical Journal.  As crazy as it may appear to the majority of you; suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge are a very common occurrence and happen quite frequently starting as far back as 1937 when the bridge was originally built.  According to the “New York Times” article in 2011 there have been at least 1,400 suicides and that is just what we have on record.[1]   That does not account for the fatalities that may have occurred at night when no one was watching.  Primarily the suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge are males and they are normally over the age of sixty-five, but recently there has been a shift in this standard.  More people in their twenties and fifties have been recorded jumping in the recent documents.

Although it is hard to really determine the true cause for any one persons’ decision to kill themselves researchers and historians have credited a lot of these suicides to the economy and the toll it is having on the jumpers’ way of life.  These troubled and stressed out individuals are just looking for a release from their pain and that is what they feel suicide will give them.  Even though the medical examiners have described this four second fall as one that results in “multiple blunt force injuries” that are extremely painful and agonizing people still choose it as their escape.[2]  The main reason behind that being that they want a full proof method of ending their life, bridge jumping as a form of suicide has proven to be the number one choice for suicides because it is almost always fatal and offers little to no mistakes.

It is a common misconception to assume that suicidal people are psychologically disturbed in some way and that is the reason for their heartbreaking suicide decision.  Historians have also found that the majority of these jumpers were not psychologically impaired, but rather down on luck.  The economy weighs a great deal into these life altering conclusions.  Records have shown that when the economy is down and unemployment is high that suicide is at its highest peak.  People feel trapped and ashamed by their failing lives and think irrationally.

The suicide prevention hotline and other organizations are trying to come up with a solution to these tragic outcomes.  “One plan up for debate is to install a safety net that will reach out 20 feet and catch jumpers.  The net will be made of marine-grade metal, and “it’s going to hurt a little bit” when a person lands on it, said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the agency. The hope is that the pain will startle people into having second thoughts about ending their lives. The cost, however, is daunting: $45 million (original bridge construction cost $35 million) — and financing has not yet been secured.”[3]  This proposal is one of many that have been discussed and debated about over the past few years in trying to find a solution to the suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is an ongoing battle every day to prevent people from choosing to take their own life and each year we can only hope that these ideas can be beneficial so that maybe we can save a person’s life.

[776]

Bibliography

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

James, Scott. “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks.” The New York Times. August 26, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/us/26bcjames.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Plotts, S. G. “Suicide in San Francisco.” British Medical Journal. Vol. 285, No. 6336, 1982: 189-199.

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge Suicides Again Top 30 Deaths in 2012.”The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

End Notes


[1] James, “A Year of Rising Suicides on Bridge and Tracks”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Blog Assignment #2: Getting Started> Searching for Sources

My topic does not have a specific time frame because unfortunately the suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge are still occurring and have been thirty on average since 2007, but the bridge has seen many tragic endings since its opening seventy-five years ago.[1] However, I was lucky to have found several different sources from both the present and the past about these events.  It is my intention to give you information about both and then compare them to one another in hopes that maybe we can figure out a common factor behind the suicides and possibly help San Francisco to put a stop to them.  If nothing else, I hope that this blog will at least make you more aware of the lives happening around you and cause you to pay more attention to detail, as they play an enormous role in the suicides occurring on The Golden Gate Bridge.

My go-to search engine, Google was my first stop to finding some information on The Golden Gate Bridge suicides and surprisingly helped me find a few reliable sources about the suicide prevention organizations and the bridge railway foundation.  I also found a few stories of specific suicides and their backgrounds.  I gathered quite a bit of information in just three websites and feel very successful in my search, but I did not stop there.  I went on to search for my sources on the CSUEB library website and tried using some of their search engines.  Historical Abstracts was of no help, but luckily JSTOR saved the day giving me some sources that are a little more in the past so that I may be able to compare and contrast the suicides from the past twenty to thirty years with those of the present happening in the twenty-first century.

Some thing I learned while researching this topic was how much I just did not know about this bridge and attraction it has for a wide variety of people.  But I want to learn more.  I want to know why The Golden Gate Bridge?  Why the side facing the city?  Why now? Why at all?  Why?  These questions and more I have yet to find answers to.  Some I may never know for certain, but I plan on getting to the bottom of every single detail; analyzing each event so that I may better understand and know what some of these questions mean.

I think that I have a good start on acquiring my source information, but I do intend on continuing my search as the blog develops further throughout the course.  Unraveling these mysterious and heartbreaking events has become something that I feel I have to do.  I need to know what drives them and how it can be fixed.  Depression is real and it can only get better when people start caring and reaching out.  I hope that my blog does that for someone.

[515]

Bibliography

Fussell, Jenna, and Maggie C. Louie. “Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County Suicide Statistics.” Bios. Vol. 79, No. 4 (2008): 171-178.

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Reisman, William. “Golden Gate Bridge suicides again top 30 deaths in 2012.” The Examiner. January 10, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/01/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-again-top-30-2012#ixzz2RMIEqAdu

End Notes


[1] William, “Golden Gate Bridge suicides again top 30 deaths in 2012”

Blog Assignment #1: Biography & Background> Here Goes Nothing

Hello and welcome friends and HY 3503 classmates to my blog!  My name is Danika Powell and I am a Secondary Education History major with the dreams of one day teaching my very own United States history course to bright eyed and obnoxious teenagers.  Somebody has to do it, right?  Anyway, I was born in the fantastic city of Hayward, California but unlike most of you I was raised in the Deep South.  A small town called Ozark, Alabama to be exact.  So although my mother was born and raised in the Bay Area and I, myself was born here; I know next to nothing about its history and I am anxious to learn anything and everything I can about this remarkable place I come from.

As you might imagine, deciding on a topic for this blog was not the easiest thing to do considering that I did not take California history in grade school, but eventually I decided on a very interesting topic that I think will excite as well as enlighten many of you.  I have chosen one of the world’s most famous landmarks for my topic and a place that every Bay Area resident holds close to their heart, the Golden Gate Bridge.  A lot of crazy and wonderful things happen on this bridge.  People get proposed to and get married here, protesters have been known to walk up and down with signs protesting the latest thing, joggers take their daily run here, people come to relax and see the amazing view, the maintenance on this bridge is extremely extensive, and millions of tourists travel for miles just to get a look of this stupendous site.  The point is that there are a lot of interesting things not only about the Golden Gate Bridge, but also things that relate to the bridge as well.

But I have decided to take a different spin on it then most would.  I am going to talk about the jumpers and how the Golden Gate Bridge is the number one suicide spot in the United States.  A little morbid I know, but like I said earlier somebody has to do it so it might as well be me.  However, let me make it known now that I do not have a depression problem and I am not planning on jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge; this blog is strictly for history research purposes.  Now even though this is something people do not openly talk about it is still widely known that the Golden Gate Bridge has attracted a lot of suicidal attention.  I like to think of it as the Bay Area’s dirty little secret, except for the fact that it is not much of a secret and more like something hush-hush.  It is important to know about these specifically terrible topics as well as the happy topics because it is a part of history and all history is worth knowing.  ““Let’s only talk about the good times” is a plea to ignore a significant portion of past reality that runs counter to the obligations and desires of responsible historians.”[1]

There is so much that history has to offer us, but we have to have an open mind to take it all in.  I cannot wait to explore this subject further and then share all of my discoveries with you all.  This is going to be one assignment that I look forward to doing each week!

[589]

Bibliography

James, Vincent. “Golden Gate Bridge.” Photo. Allposters.com 16 Apr. 2013. <www.allposters.com>.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

End Notes


[1] David E. Kyvig, and Myron A. Marty, Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You