a synopsis from the
independent film channel: Inspired by a New Yorker story, "Jumpers",
written by Tad Friend, director Eric Steel decided to train cameras on the
Golden Gate Bridge over the course of 2004 to capture the people who attempted
to leap off the famed structure, the site of more suicides than anywhere else in
the world. He also tracked down and interviewed the friends, family members, and
eyewitnesses to further recreate the events leading up to the incident and to
try to explain what led these people to want to kill themselves, especially at
this specific site. The documentary's primary subjects all struggled with mental
illness, including severe depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders, and
the documentary struggles to understand their illness while illuminating the
anger and hurt of their loved ones. Most questions remain unanswered, turning on
the darker recesses of the mind. The shots of the bridge wreathed in fog turn
the Golden Gate into a metaphor for a bridge between life and death, sanity and
mental disturbance, and extreme isolation and connection with society. Though
the camera crew worked with a set of guidelines, including that they would call
in someone they thought was going to jump, the documentary still includes
lengthy footage of the moments leading up to and including the suicides, so
discretion is advised for sensitive viewers.
'the bridge' - director ric steel interview, part 2 - about 6 minutes.
'the bridge' - a review - about 3.3 minutes.
12.09.15: I Jumped Off The Golden Gate Bridge
10.31.13, wlox.com, Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor talks about mental illness
01.19.05, sfgate.com, Film captures suicides on Golden Gate Bridge / Angry officials say moviemaker misled them,
Golden Gate Bridge officials are seething that a moviemaker who told them he was working on a "day in the life" project about the landmark was, in fact, capturing people on film as they jumped to their deaths. Eric Steel initially told officials he planned to spend a year filming the "powerful and spectacular interaction between the monument and nature" and that his work was to be the first in a series of documentaries about national monuments such as the St. Louis Arch and the Statue of Liberty. That's how he got the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's permission to set up cameras on parkland overlooking Fort Point.
Now, however, Steel has revealed in an e-mail to bridge officials that the cameras -- which were operating almost continuously during daylight hours for all of 2004 -- filmed most of the 19 jumpers who went off the bridge last year plus a number of attempted suicides.
Apparently, that was the point all along. Steel says his goal is to "allow us to see into the most impenetrable corners of the human mind and challenge us to think and talk about suicide in profoundly different ways."
"Are we angry? Absolutely," said bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie.
"A guy this duplicitous -- there must be a way to yank that stuff away from him," said Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown, a member of the bridge district's board. "It's just a horrible thing to be taking pictures of."
"It's creepy," agreed San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, also a member of the district board. "Whatever the intention of the film, you can't help but think of a snuff film."
Golden Gate National Recreation Area spokesman Rich Weideman, whose agency issued the permit for Steel to set up his cameras, said officials "would likely have taken a second and stronger look" if they'd known the filmmaker's true intent.
Still, Weideman said, free-speech guidelines don't leave a lot of room for federal officials to question content.
Bridge district officials, who had nothing to do with issuing the permit, already were suspicious before Steel broke the news.
"He had all this sophisticated equipment, and it was all focused mid span, so it was pretty clear what he was really up to," said one bridge worker who visited the camera site and asked not to be named.
Then last week came the e-mail from Steel telling bridge officials what the movie was really about and asking permission to interview bridge workers and brass about the suicides.
"My crew and I spent an entire year looking very carefully at the Golden Gate Bridge, running cameras for almost every daylight minute," Steel wrote. "We observed and filmed most of the two dozen or so suicides and a great many of the unrealized attempts.
"I'm not sure if you are aware of this," he added, "but on several occasions during the year, my crew and I were the first callers to the bridge patrol offices when we saw these events begin to unfold."
Steel also flew around the country logging nearly a hundred hours of interviews with jumpers' families, friends, witnesses, medical and psychiatric professionals and several attempted jumpers.
"It is a movie about the human spirit in crisis. It is a movie about people," Steel wrote.
"My intent is to make an independent, feature-length film that I can show at a major film festival," he added. "Beyond that, I have no distribution plans -- only hopes."
Marin County Supervisor and bridge board member Cynthia Murray said it is both fascinating and tragic that the bridge continues to be a magnet for suicides, and she worries about the effects Steel's movie might have.
"This could unfortunately add to people's interest to use the bridge as a final step," she said. "It seems the more you talk about this, the more there's a chance of copycat (suicides), and that would be extremely unfortunate if that was the case with this movie."
Both Murray and Ammiano said they favor taking another look at installing a suicide barrier.
Steel declined Tuesday to talk about the film or his tactics, saying he was in the middle of negotiations with bridge authorities for their cooperation.
Suffice it to say that at this point, officials don't appear to be ready for their close-ups -- especially now that they feel that Steel misrepresented what he was doing.
Still, "we are a public facility," bridge spokeswoman Currie said. "So his request will be handled accordingly. But now there's the question of what else might he be misrepresenting."
"What else did he film?" added board member Brown. "The underside of the bridge? The security patrols?"
09.03.17, Faustus, Fla, USA, Watched it over and over again. Don't understand why.
08.24.08, Kate, A close family friend of mine committed suicide almost four years ago now jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This was a brilliant, talented, beautiful person who lived in our home for a time, who was like a member of our family, and who struggled for her entire life with crippling depression. I have heard about this movie, and I don't think I'll be able to see it; I have to drive over that bridge every few months, and I still am overcome with grief and anxiety every time I cross it. But I applaud your critique of the reviews. Because even though I probably won't see the movie, I think it's thought-provoking and important. Even if the filmmaker's thesis is flawed, if he is coming at it from a good place then it has some worth. (comment lifted from tomatonation.com, a worthy read about 'the bridge' movie.)
02.05.08, jess, what an amazing documentary last night... made my stomach cringe a few times... especially the last guy to go over... he didnt seem like he really WANTED to do it... he was up there for quite a while contemplating... you could even see him getting angry with himself a few times and stepping back... he couldnt even face toward the water when he finally did do it... then there was the old guy who was having so much trouble just getting over the rail, and he kinda just rolled over the edge... so sad... and the interview with the kid that survived.. WOW... could you imagine how many MORE suicides we would have off the skyway if they allowed you to walk across like they do the goldengate?! (comment lifted from myspace.)
|the suicide barrier debate|
Golden Gate Bridge Gets Suicide Net Approval,
After decades worth of engineering studies and heated debate, Golden Gate Bridge officials have voted to erect a suicide barrier on the bridge. The winning design is a stainless steel net that will be hung beneath the iconic bridge span.
The net will not obstruct the existing views from the bridge. It works by catching any would-be individuals who are feeling suicidal that try to jump.
The Golden Gate Transportation District’s board of directors voted 14-1 for the net option today. They considered several methods to stop people from jumping off the world-famous bridge, including fences. The board settled on the prevention net, which has an estimated cost between $40 to $50 million.
The net still requires additional permits, including an environmental review, before installation will begin. It is estimated that it will still be another 2 to 3 years before the net is installed.
Bridge official estimate that, on average, 20 people jump from the span every year. Thirty eight jumped last year and 19 have jumped so far this year. Once installed, it is expected that the net will prevent virtually all suicide attempts from the world-famous bridge. (thanks to bill for sending this.) now, try the whine:
10.10.08, psychcentral.com, Golden Gate Bridge To Get a Suicide Net, by John M. Grohol,
The Bridge’s board of directors has been under increasing pressure in recent years to do something more to prevent the numerous suicides that take place on the iconic span. Thirty eight people plummeted to their death last year from the bridge.
We’ve previously documented how a film was made capturing some of the suicides that take place on the Golden Gate Bridge. We expressed our frustration in July with the slow progress being made in erecting the barrier. We didn’t make any fans of some San Franciscans when we first blogged about this issue over two years ago in an entry entitled, What do San Franciscans Value? The View or Human Life?. With the use of the net, the hope is that the existing view can be maintained, while still saving lives.
But it’s still got a ways to go. The district has no money to pay for the net (apparently no one thought to begin looking at ways to fund the barrier two years ago when it was first considered). It will likely be at least two more years before the barrier is in place, assuming funds are found, environmental permits are received, and engineering studies are completed.
It’s taken two years and over 60 deaths to get to an approved suicide barrier plan for the bridge. Sadly, it’ll probably cost another 60 or so more human lives before the net actually is approved and constructed.
(this barrier net has an "estimated cost between $40 to $50 million" and like most every other government construction job, will no doubt be much closer to $100 million in delays, cost over runs, and corruption. tag on many thousands a year in maintenance the net will demand. the net will stop many suicides from the bridge, but it will never stop everyone that wants to end their life by jumping from the golden gate bridge. a net may catch the jumpers, but they will figure out a way around a net. then there is the very likelihood that anyone caught in the net and injured in any way, will sue and win large sums of money for having created a structure that injures people that jump into it. anyone caught in the net will also need to be rescued from it. the rescuers will also likely get injured doing their job and that too will result in lawsuits and disability issues. sorry, john, but your cute little net will not save everyone. those that are stopped may well find another way to check themselves out. you will never stop suicide and you should stop worrying so much about it. people have the right to die by their own hand and you need to let them make up their own minds. your bridge has about 20 suicides a year. it would take 50 years of bridge jumpers to equal the suicide rate of one single day of cigarette smokers. in this country alone, one thousand people a day extinguish their lives through all fault of their own with cigarettes. perhaps you should order up a barrier around a pack of smokes.) mr. grohol replies:
10.12.08, John M. Grohol, @phil - Nobody’s looking to stop suicides completely as that’s an unreasonable goal. Just to make it less easy to do so for people who make the decision “in the moment,” as many bridge jumpers have been shown to do in research on this phenomenon. Fences and barriers of this nature simply work and the research proves it.
As for gov’t corruption, I guess we shouldn’t do any program that enhances social good for that very same reason. Heck, let’s stop building roads too, since those are the biggest death traps in the U.S., killing 40,000+ Americans each and every year.
There are many causes of preventable deaths in the U.S., including 100,000+ from medical mistakes in hospitals. But every neighborhood and community has to look at what makes sense for them. And for the Golden Gate Bridge, this is a no-brainer, easy way to prevent the vast majority of deaths each from the bridge. (we contend that it's not feasible to expend such a large sum for so few. there are many causes of preventable deaths in the u.s. and of course we should take all logical and concerted efforts to prevent them, but not so many millions for the so few that want to end their lives anyway, regardless if it's on impulse or not. the real no-brainer is to use the 'net' money for the greater good. you have an agenda and we applaud your effort, we just think it's misguided. here's an idea, use the 'net' money to buy nicotine gum for those that wish to quit smoking. the 'lives saved' return would be better than bridge jumpers saved. see, we too have an agenda and feel ours will save more lives for the dollar then yours will. you can reply if you wish, but we have made our points and will not bother you any more. good luck with your net.)
more about the bridge, suicide bridge nets, and barriers: ggb suicide barrier.org
12.24.17: sf.curbed.com, volunteers needed to guard against bridge tragedy for christmas.
04.14.17: cbsnews.com, Golden Gate suicide barriers going up after 1,500 deaths.
03.02.17: mercurynews.com, Golden Gate suicide barrier completion date set.
01.26.17: sfgate.com, Building suicide-prevention net to take 4 years.
12.22.16: fox13news.com, safety net aims to deter suicides from golden gate.
12.15.16: marinij.com, bridge suicide barrier construction to start in 2017.
10.04.16: archinect.com, bridge needs additional $124,000,000 to build suicide barrier.
02.20.16: marinij.com, golden gate bridge suicide barrier delayed two months.
12.20.14: mercurynews.com, final design golden gate bridge suicide barrier complete
10.24.14: bloomberg.com, managers weigh fee for pedestrians to help pay for jumper nets.
10.12.14: marinij.com, Southern Marin fire crews to handle bridge suicide net rescues.
07.05.14: marinij.com, Editorial - Golden Gate Bridge anti-suicide net will save lives.
06.28.14: allvoices.com, bridge board approves $76m funding for suicide barrier. more.
06.23.14: ktvu.com, golden gate bridge 'suicide net' sparks mixed reaction.
06.09.14: dailymail.co.uk, grandson of ggb suicide barrier pioneer leaps to his death off ggb.
05.23.14: abc7news.com, Bridge suicide nets: Worst red tape in California history?
03.16.14: dailymail.co.uk, officials close to approving $66m safety net under bridge.
02.26.14: nbcnews.com, Golden Gate Bridge Hit Milestone in 2013 with 46 Suicides.
02.21.14: abclocal.com, Record number of suicides from Golden Gate Bridge in 2013.
11.05.13: sonomastatestar.com, Golden Gate Bridge fails to make life-saving changes.
10.15.13: slate.com, A simple fix to the Golden Gate Bridge would save hundreds of lives.
10.12.13: sfgate.com, Suicide barriers back in spotlight with Calif. law.
09.29.13: latimes.com, The suicide magnet that is the Golden Gate Bridge.
05.25.12: latimes.com, The Golden Gate Bridge's fatal flaw.
jumpers: the fatal grandeur of the golden gate bridge, by tad friend.
01.30.09: efforts increase to deter bridge jumpers.
10.13.08: how does a bridge suicide net work?
10.11.08: golden gate to get suicide net.
2005: LETHAL BEAUTY. parts: 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7
|10.03.16: Texting Offers New Lifeline To Prevent Suicides|
npr.org, Sitting next to the living room sofa, fully charged, is the cell phone that belonged to Kimberlyrenee and Manuel Gamboa's son, Kyle.
"We've kept it on and I just think his friends, it helps," Kimberlyrenee says. "Well it helps us to heal and I think it helps his friends to heal."
So they can see whenever one of Kyle's friends sends a text.
"Yeah, and here's another one that says, 'Love you brother, I really don't know what happened. I miss you, I wish you were here.' And that was June 2," she says.
It's been three years since the 18-year-old high school senior skipped school, drove to the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped.
New prevention strategy
The number of people younger than 25 showing up at the bridge intending to commit suicide is five times what it was in 2000, according to officials. On average, two to three people jump each month. Bridge and California Highway Patrol officers stop most of them, but they still need more help.
Each time the Bridge Board holds a public meeting, the Gamboas show up to demand the board install a suicide net — a big, expensive project that keeps getting delayed.
But, at a recent meeting, the Gamboas learned of the bridge's new prevention strategy: the crisis text hotline.
"I'm all for it," Manuel says.
It's not the the ultimate solution, he says, but Manuel does believe that text messaging is a very big part of the young community. So now there are signs on the bridge urging anyone considering suicide to text the number 741741.
Texting is easier
In the dining room of her San Francisco apartment, Ellen Kaster is answering texts to the hotline, which come in from all over the the country. She's a volunteer with the suicide prevention network called Crisis Text Line.
"Right now I have a texter who has struggled with drug addiction and has gone through phases of being clean and relapsing," she says.
The texter tells Kaster he feels suicidal. This is a code orange, which means her supervisor — a social worker — has now joined in to monitor the conversation. They'll call police if the suicide threats intensify.
Kaster says for many, texting these emotional conversations is easier.
"It can feel very vulnerable, especially for the younger generation, to actually dial a real phone and talk to somebody, so there's something very impersonal about text that's very natural," she explains.
'Just give tomorrow a chance'
When a suicide threat is texted from the Golden Gate Bridge, the hotline counselors contact the bridge patrol. That team, which is constantly on the lookout for people who might be suicidal, is led by Capt. Lisa Locati.
"The ages here are just startling — 16, 22, 25," she says.
In the bridge command center, Locati thumbs through a binder full of printed Facebook pages. These are people whose loved ones have called in, worried they might jump.
What really bothers Locati is how many are just kids who don't have much perspective on life.
"They got a bad grade in class, broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend," she says. "There's a lot of bullying going on in the age group."
Locati says that can be devastating to some young people.
"You want so much to make the connection and convince this person that dying is not the answer, at least today," she says. "Just give tomorrow a chance. So, yeah, it's very exhausting.
Reach out, someone will answer
At the Gamboas' home Kimberlyrenee says she doesn't know whether her son Kyle would have reached out to the textline. But he was on his phone that morning.
"And his last contact was on Facebook, and he texted," she says.
She hopes if Kyle's friends will reach out to a phone he hasn't answered in three years, maybe kids on the bridge will text for help, and someone will answer.
|jumpers by year • full size|
gatech.edu, stats - jumps from 1937 to 2011: 1,575 suicides, 32 survivors
|ggb jump reports|
history of suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge.
|"please hold, your call isn't important to us".|
ggb jump reports
top of page ►feel suicidal?