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.

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