The Bridge

The Golden Gate

More people choose to end their lives at the Golden Gate bridge than other other place in the world. A couple of years ago I read an article about this fact in the New Yorker titled, Jumpers by Tad Friend.

The article inspired director Eric Steel to film the Golden Gate Bridge for a year. His film crew caught 23 suicides, missed one and also recorded a man saving a girl from jumping by grabbing her jacket and physically pulling her off the edge of the bridge. They also captured a failed attempt when a boy survived his jump and was kept afloat by a Bay Area seal until the coast guard arrived to rescue him.

The camera crew vigilantly called the bridge authorities when they observed clear signs of someone about to jump. In doing so, they foiled six near suicides.

Steel took criticism for the film after he lied about his intentions in order to get permission, saying it was a documentary about a day in the life of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The film is called, The Bridge (trailer). It first aired in September 2006 and was released on DVD June 12th, 2007.

San Francisco columnist Violet Blue gives a very interesting review of the film and includes a Q & A mp3 with director Eric Steel.

Previously: Golden Gate Bridge: Suicide Magnet and If People Played More Boardgames.

A few notes on a Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier after the jump:


The guard rail that separates pedestrians on the Golden Gate Bridge from the outer ledge and the water 225 feet below is only 4 feet high. There is no suicide barrier.

For more than 50 years, the Golden Gate Bridge District has resisted the idea of building a suicide barrier on their bridge. They have cited various reasons—engineering, cost, effectiveness, and aesthetic.

A decade ago, they instituted a “non-physical barrier” method of suicide prevention that includes security cameras, bike patrols, and hotline phones — but the suicide rate at the Golden Gate Bridge remains constant. There are roughly 20 suicides there each year.

The Bridge District authorities invested millions of dollars in a barrier between the pedestrian walkway and the roadway — though there has never been a pedestrian/vehicular fatality. They have also invested in the development of a movable median divider, though head on collisions on the bridge are practically non-existent.

When the nature of this film was revealed, the Bridge District was once again forced to confront the issue of a suicide barrier. The press frenzy was intense. Vocal, and more organized outcry by family members and mental health care professionals prompted the authorities to authorize a study of a suicide barrier. Citing financial burden and hardship, the Bridge District made no provisions for this study in their budgets; grants by state and federal transportation bureaus provided nearly three quarters of the $2 million dollar estimated costs, but for almost a year the Bridge District refused to move forward until all the funds had been gathered. Finally, in March 2006, when news that THE BRIDGE would be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival, the authorities voted to begin the study with the funds at hand. Additional state transportation funds were provided in April 2006 so that the study is now fully funded — but the results of the study are many months away, and the estimated cost of actually building a barrier is $25 million.

8 replies on “The Bridge”

Dr. Richard Seiden, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health and the leading researcher on suicide at the bridge, has written that studies reveal “a commonly held attitude that romanticizes suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge in such terms as aesthetically pleasing and beautiful, while regarding a Bay Bridge suicide as tacky.”

It is too bad that Dr. Seiden spent so much time in the class room and so little time in the practical realities of life.

People jump from the Golden Gate not because of romance — but because of desperation. The choose the Golden Gate Bridge not because it is less tacky but because it has easy access and pedestrian walkways.

No other Bridge in the Bay Area has pedestrian walkways. No access no deaths.

The Directorate of the Golden Gate has managed to keep the public in the dark for over 70 years ! Only now because of the internet can the story get out –

Not only that but the GG Bridge is bankrupt — the real reason that nothing is being done to end the deaths.

Please open your eyes — and do just a little research deaths at the Golden Gate Bridge have now climbed to one a week — yes one a week and over 2,000 to date that we know of, the research and studies are unanimous — if a person is prevented from suicide 98% yes 98% never try again.

I wish the Doctor and the rest of those that spend their time talking about death on the Bridge would do less talking and more action.

While they are talking and philosophizing one person leaps off the Bridge every week.

I am a native of San Francisco and I am horrified at the inability of citizens to understand that this one mile stretch of road is killing one person and devastating their families forever while people like the good doctor write about romance and Christine and Iyakin advance their sophomoric take on death at the Golden Gate.

We are all part of the problem and this is a real tragedy and if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

Just imagine the uproar if someone were to throw a poodle off the Golden Gate once a week!

I Can tell you this, ( beings I’M seriously contemplating making the jump) that the reason people do it there is because at least they will be remembered in some larger than life way.

I agree with Roxanne, that its definitely a grand way to do yourself in. Roxanne if you want to talk, let me know. I’ve seriously thought of killing myself too, this is why I stumbled upon this site. I think there is hope for your future, and you will live to see it. Don’t take life so seriously, have a drink once and a while. People think jumping off the bridge is a peaceful and quick death, but in reality its very painful. I read that its like someone took an eggbeater to the organs, and you either drown or bleed to death. Hitting the water at 75 mph is brutal, its like slamming into a brick wall. I’ve seen clips of “The Bridge” and it broke my heart, so tragic. I’ve also read the article by Tad Friend, and can’t believe how long this has been happening. No one has done anything about it. I don’t know if just putting up a barrier is going to make people stop thinking about suicide, I’m thinking there’s a deeper issue to look at within the human mind. Why are people suicidal? Why isn’t the issue addressed in society? I have one answer and that is, our society is one-dimensional, very set in its ways, very boring. These “jumpers” have gotten to the point-of-no-return. They’re done with this life, there’s no option left for them, except death. I hate that people characterize the suicidal as being, “mentally ill” or whatever else they want to name it, why must everything be labeled. Often, suicide is committed by the perfectly sane, it can be an impulsive act. Anyways, what I tell myself each day to get by is, “who gives a rat’s ass about any of this (everything in general/life), no one makes it out alive.” Our civilization is going to die off someday, I’m sure. Oh, and there is no after-life or better place, that’s just a crock of shit to make people feel better about death. Sorry, for all the negativity, but its just the truth.

You said it yourself, “People feel better about death when they believe in an afterlife”. What’s wrong with that? Our whole lives we are told to live life in a positive, happy and healthy manner: be positive, think positive, nobody likes a negative person, be happy. Since we’ve been kids we’ve been told to do all these things. What’s wrong with dying and thinking that there will be a positive outcome like : afterlife, heaven, or whatever you want to call it. It seems like a shame to live life trying to be so positive all the time, to just die in such a negative and sad manner (not believing in anything).
If humans or our civilization, are insignificant as you say, why not die thinking that we our significant. Why do you give humans, so little credit. After all, look at the great inventions that our civilizations have given us, and how throughout our history the power of good and love, mostly always prevails.
Afterlife is what you make of it. This whole universe is made of the same elements of life that we humans are made of too. Life and death is meant to be natural; it starts and it ends. Why interfere with the harmony that the natural elements of the universe give us? The elements of life have given us the gift of a conscience life, which creates the power of love. Why turn-off this beautiful and mysterious gift, like if it was just a insignificant television or radio appliance, which you can turn-on and turn-off. I’d like to live and die knowing that my life is not as insignificant as television, but I am humble enough to know that mankind is just a microscopically small significance in this universe. But we still are significant, just like the ants are significant in our planet earth.
It’s cliche to say that the whole world fits in our head, but if you truly understand this concept, you’ll know that what I am saying might not be correct, but it is definately not wrong. No one is wrong, everyone has there own righteous interpretation. That is why death is important. You need to figure out your own interpretation to this mysterious, beautiful, but yet so stressful life, so you can die in eternal peace. To die in peace is heaven, to die any other way is hell. It’s a concept, don’t take everything you hear or read literally. The message is the most important thing. You were born by yourself, and you will surely die by yourself, don’t let anyone or anything interfere with your significance in this universe.

Roxanne was my mother…. she died September 10th, 2009. She did try to jump off the bridge one time, but decided not to. This string of posts is hard, but very comforting to see. Thank you for allowing me to see this piece of history.

roxanne was my daughter. she killed herself on sept 10th by shooting herself. yes she was going to jump off the golden gate but told someone and they called me. i called chp and they went and stopped her. she was suppose to be on a 72 hr. hold but talked her way out of it. THE SYSTEM FAILED HER, not just that time but many times. the system fails anyone who has brain problems.

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