Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Golden Gate Suicides

Here's a couple interesting fact that you may not have known. At least I didn't, until recenly.

1. There are twice as many suicides in the US as there homicides every year.

2. The Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular (lack of better term) place on earth to kill yourself.

I read an article recently that really caught my attention. It is about a man who video taped the Golden Gate Bridge for one year and caught 24 suicides on tape. He and his crew had a couple different angles they filmed from at about a half mile away. The recording was not made public due to the chance of increasing suicides in that area. Some people might have mistaken it for a way to catch some fame even after their lives had ended....especially if they were contemplating these thoughts already.

Each time the camera crews saw someone go lift themselves over the rails, they called bridge security, and in a few cases, they were able to prevent the deaths of some of these people. One woman was actually stopped from commiting suicide on two different occasions.

This footage has now been put together for a movie/documentation called "The Bridge."

The photographer, or filmer, Eric Steel stated that seeing the footage from 9/11, which happened only a mile or so from his home was part of his inspiration for this film. Do any of you remember the footage that was taken off the air of the people jumping from the Twin Towers during the terrorist attack? As Steel mentioned in one interview, that footage was banned from TV shortly after it originally aired. It was already a hard thing to accept, but for the general public, seeing suicides happening live on TV could have been even more disturbing. For Steel, it was just one more heart wrenching reason to bring awareness to this subjuect. He is quoted in one article as saying the imagery of those people jumping was "indelibly written," and he believes the people jumping from the bridge are "trying to escape their own emotional inferno." Those are the parrallels that he described with his investigation of the brige and 9/11.

The film has been mixed with interviews from family members, witnesses, and friend of those who took their own lives at the bridge. One mother of a suicide victim said she found a great sense of closure after requesting to view her own daughter's death. She said " I needed to know she died instantly, and that the coast guard got her body from the water showing that it wasn't grossly disfigured. This was my daughter, and I needed to know the end wasn't nearly as horrible as it could have been."

Quoting Bizarre magazine "The end product isn't gory or sick. It's shocking." I'm not sure that I would agree if I ever decided to watch such a film. For some reason, I do find it intriguing. On average, a suicide occurs every two weeks at The Golden Gate Bridge. That seems like an astounding number to me.

"It's definitely not a movie everyone's going to understand in the same wasy'" says Steel. "It's meant to be provocative. It's meant to challenge you mentally and visually. Obviously there are people who'll find it difficult and have a hard time with it. I knew that going in. The goal was always to create awareness about these issues, and to make people think harder about the world we live in and our civic responsibilities and how much we care. I never set out to make a film that told people what to think. I set out to make a film to make people question what we believe. And I believe that's what I've done."

I found it a little disturbing that I was so intigued by the whole thing. I honestly think what intrigues me the most is what is actually going through these peoples' heads as they make the decision to take their own life. Why is that thought there, and what can be, or could've been done to prevent it.

In the article I found, it shows a picture of a sign with a phone at the end of the bridge for crisis couseling. It's sign says "Crisis Counseling....there is hope...make the call." I wonder how many calls they actually get on that hotline. It's sad that there is even a need for something like that anywhere.

So, my question to all of you is.....would you ever watch this film, or anything like it? And how do you feel about these people being filmed without their knowledge.

There is a lot of criticism being thrown Steel's way right now. I don't know if he's in the right by trying to make people more aware of what's really going on out there, or if he will encourage those people who already have suicidal thoughts to go out in a big way....maybe in hopes of being caught on film. It seems sick to think that may encourage someone, but if they feel they've lost everything else already, what do they have to lose now?

Here's a link to one article about the movie


alli-gal said...

so...I guess this subject is too touchy, or too freaky for anyone to have an opinion on......

I may be a freak for it,but I kinda have this weird need to see it now that I've heard about it

Andrea said...

Nope, actually I forgot to comment.

I saw something on the Discovery Channel or the Science Channel or some brainiac channel that Rich constantly has on.

It was on this topic and the documentary! I was completely fascinated and really can't explain why. I guess the fact that people get that desparate - Wow! It's hard for my brain to compute.