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.” 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.
In 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.” 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.” 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.” 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?’” 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.
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.
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
 John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 1.
 John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 23.
 John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 7.
 John Bateson, The Final Leap, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 80.
 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).