Posted by: kfugrip | August 28, 2007

Sobering

Apparently I don’t like the idea of people killing themselves. I watched The Bridge, by Eric Steel, last night on the Independent Film Channel. The Bridge is about people who choose to kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a documentary that is unsettling and features footage of actual suicides, twenty-three to be exact. The footage of people walking on the bridge, the mist around the bridge, and interview footage are all cut together to create a portrait of the act and aftermath of suicide.

The documentary opens with some beautiful time lapse footage that reveals the Golden Gate Bridge in emerging from the fog. Much of the picturesque footage of the bridge is effective and provides and interesting contrast. When an actual suicide happens it is affecting and unforgettable. I am still shaken. The way this is sitting with me is reminiscent of my reaction to the Jonestown incident.

The film wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked. It was emotional and interesting but I think it had more to do with the subject matter than the filmmaker’s vision. I commend Mr. Steel for his methods. He filmed the bridge at all times for a year, with multiple crews working at all times as well. This allowed him to capture what may have been a recreation in another film. I also wish that the interviewees had been more inclusive. If all of the families and friends had been interviewed the film would have taken more shape but I’m sure this was very difficult, if not impossible.

All told it was an interesting film and I would recommend people to see it even though there was space for the subject matter to be expounded upon. I don’t feel like the film was exploitative or grotesque, but it may not be for everyone.

3 stars

bridge.jpg

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Responses

  1. As you know, I felt this film didn’t have much to offer other than the haunting suicide footage. In a better filmmaker’s hands, this could have been really powerful.

  2. Suicide is an impetuous act – or the act of an ill person lacking the capacity to make a sane decision. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    Limiting access to the means of death has proven to dramatically reduce suicides.
    98% of those stopped never attempt suicide again.

    The rails at the Golden Gate Bridge are simply too low and access is too great. The rails of the bridge need to be raised.

    Four people try to die there every week and one succeeds.

    The true victims are the loved ones left behind many of which carry terrible emotional scars the rest of their lives…

    San Franciscans and the people of the Bay Area can no longer hide their collective heads in the sand – we are now well aware of the horror taking place and as such have a moral obligation to do something to end the deaths at the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Please help raise the rails – and end the tragic deaths

    http://www.bridgerail.org

  3. i am in no way trying to advocate suicide, or to minimize the pain of those who have lost someone to suicide of any kind, but as i argued the other night after seeing this movie, i think the bridge should be left alone, people should be allowed to commit suicide if that is what they want.

    people who are intent on suicide (which i feel most times is NOT an impetuous act) will find a way, whether it is the bridge or something else. and who are we to make that decision for them. nobody knows what another person is truly going through and it is arrogant of us as outsiders to say that we know what is best for someone else.

  4. With all do respect the act of suicide IS an impetuous act , 98% of those prevented never try to kill themselves again. It would be foolish I am sure you would agree to leave a loaded gun on a table in a mental ward.

    The Golden Gate Bridge in its current construct is just like a loaded gun in a mental ward. The rails too low access to great.

    Additionally, information as to death occurring at the bridge is too sparse.Suicide by bridge is gruesome, and death is almost certain. People have survived the fall, but not many. You might survive if you hit the water feet first and come in at a slight angle.

    The impact is tremendous. The body goes from roughly 75 to 80 mph to nearly zero in a nanosecond. The physics of inertia being what they are, internal organs tend to keep going. The force of impact causes them to tear loose. Autopsy reports typically indicate that the jumpers have lacerated aortas, livers, spleens and hearts. Ribs are often broken, and the impact shoves them into the heart or lungs. Jumpers have broken sternums, clavicles, pelvises and necks. Skull fractures are common.

    Which means you die one of two ways, or a combination of both. One, you hit the water and the impact kills you. Sometimes the jumper is knocked unconscious. Other times, the jumper survives for a time. The person can be seen flailing about in the water, trying to stay afloat, only to succumb to the extensive internal bleeding. Death can take seconds or minutes. Two, you drown. You hit the water going fast, and your body plunges in deep. Conscious or otherwise, you breathe in saltwater and asphyxiate.

    You can usually tell which bridge jumpers drowned: Frothy mucus bubbles from the nose.

    “Some people seem to think that jumping off the bridge is a light, airy way to end your life, like going to join the angels,” said Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes, talking in the reception area of the coroner’s office in San Rafael. “I’d like to dispel that myth. When you jump off the bridge, you hit the water hard. It’s not a pretty death.”

    One of Holmes’ investigators, Darrell Harris, walks by at that moment and overhears. “Yup,” he says. “Multiple blunt-force trauma.”

    In other words, you die the same way as someone hit by a car.

    In conclusion if a person is in their right mind and they choose to end their life I agree that they should be permitted but it is clear to me that no one in their right mind would chose the Golden Gate Bridge to do it.

  5. pkh, could you site your source for “… 98% of those prevented never try to kill themselves again.”
    I would like to read the article or research associated with that number. Thanks.

  6. pkh…i’d like to see your sources for several things, including the 98% fact as kfugrip requests above and the “suicide IS an impetuous act” fact. i have never read that anywhere, and i don’t believe it. i do believe that most people that are rescued after a suicide attempt go through an experience most of us cannot understand and have different feelings about things when they come out the other side, but i don’t believe the number is 98%, if only because there are many cases out there of people attempting suicide multiple times, let alone the unknown cases.

    i’m not going to debate you on what a horrible death jumping off a bridge surely is, because most suicides are horrible deaths and to debate which option of the many that are out there (blades, pills, guns, hangings, need i go on?) is worse than another one. i suspect for an individual person one is more horrifying than another and the bridge obviously appeals to some people more than the idea of slitting their wrists or swallowing pills.

    i’m not trying to romanticize the bridge in any way, but i guess in a world where our freedoms seem smaller and smaller every day i take issue with the idea that we are not even allowed to end our own lives without judgement, intervention by strangers, or worse, the government.

  7. kfugrip

    see:

    Where Are They Now?

    A Follow-up Study of Suicide Attempters from
    the Golden Gate Bridge
    Richard H. Seiden, Ph.D., M.P.H.
    University of California at Berkeley

    and

    Please visit this website at http://www.bridgerail.org

    Research has shown that if a suicidal person can be helped through that event, 94% do not go on to kill themselves (Seiden 1981).

    Suicide is an impulsive act and lives can be saved when a suicidal person gets past the impulse.

    One study in Texas looked at 153 cases of near-lethal suicide attempts. Researchers found that 24% of these individuals spent less than 5 minutes between the decision to commit suicide and the attempt. (See: Simon, 2001).

    Research has consistently shown that if access to a single means of suicide is restricted, overall suicides decrease.

    In October 2005, JAMA published the most complete review ever undertaken of suicide prevention techniques.
    Twenty-three physicians and scientists from the US, Europe, and Asia authored the review after carefully studying forty years of published scientific research. They concluded that restricting access to lethal means is one of only two scientifically established methods to reduce suicides.

    See Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA), 2005, 294; 2064-2074

    !


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