from the 'office of the governor'updated 05.18.10 • home page
we receive a letter dated 02.19.10 from Erin MacInnes, Director, Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention, Executive Office of the Governor. the following is that unedited letter in it's entirety, along
with our commentary and added web links.
you can also read the pdf letter we received.
Dear Mr. Aisheo,
According to the Florida Department of Health, 2,723 Floridians lost their lives to suicide in 2008 at a rate of seven people per day. As reflected by your website, www.skywaybridge.com, many families and communities have been affected by the deaths of their loved ones, friends, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors. (we've heard florida is the murder/suicide capital of this country. is this true?)
Although your website disclaimer states that you in no way condone jumping from the Skyway Bridge, we are concerned that some of your content may be producing more harm than good. There are some positive elements to the website, including your suicide prevention and help section which features crisis hotlines, advocacy organizations, and other information websites. It is commendable that you have included these resources for those who are suffering. We also appreciate that you are seeking environmental solutions to prevent those attempting to jump.
Adversely, research shows that media (including websites, blogs, and social networking) displaying explicit details or pictures of suicide deaths (we display no suicide imagery. we post jumper details from the news media, police reports, and from eye witness accounts. these witnesses were involved in a scenario where someone performed a live action horror show, right before their eyes. we appreciate them telling us their story. some are deeply involved and need to have their story told. we do post any found images of the jumpers taken before the act, such as facebook entries, obituary pictures, and/or criminal mugshots. we have also received images of jumpers in the water and being pulled out of the water. you will not find those posted on this site.), settings (we do display the bridge.), or methods (there is only one method, they jump.) can increase the spread of suicide contagion, or copycat suicides. (the skyway bridge has had the reputation as a suicide jumping site since back in the 50's. people know about it, are drawn to it, and have been for decades before this site ever existed. people in this area use the term "jump off the skyway" to display frustration or as a suggestion to others as a joke. jumping off the bridge is common enough in this area and is known by everyone around here.) People in crisis or suffering from mental illness can be especially susceptible to suggestions, especially from various media sources. The Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention and other prevention advocates around the State are concerned that some of the content on your website may promote the idea of suicide rather than prevent it. (we feel you are wrong.) Here are some media guidelines provided by national experts for your consideration:
• Sensational coverage of suicide should be avoided, especially when involving a suicide death. Avoid showing pictures of the deceased, the scene of the suicide or the method used. your contention that suicide should be quietly hidden away like it doesn't exist is ridiculous. people taking themselves out by jumping off the bridge is newsworthy, as is proven by the news coverage of many dozens of skyway suicides since the very first known skyway suicide. pictures of the deceased when they were living puts a face to the act, showing the person to be real and is no longer alive due to the fact he/she ended their life by their own accord. we feel potential suicidals need to come face to face with what happens after they take themselves out by jumping off the skyway bridge. sure, they're off to the after-life problem free, but now their friends and family are left to deal with it. the site does not promote suicide, but we do put it in their face, point blank. this is the bridge and this is what happens when you jump from it. keep in mind, we are totally in favor of anyone ending their life by their own hand anytime they want, but we do hope they get help and we try to guide them to it. healthy, physically or mentally ill, planned or on impulse, people have the right to die if they want to.
• Avoid graphic descriptions of the suicide or method. common sense would dictate that the only method one chooses when jumping off the skyway is that they jump off the skyway. we didn't invent it and don't really need to point out such an obvious method. we contend the graphic description we posted in 2008 should be read by anyone thinking about jumping off the bridge. it should replace the crisis phones up on the bridge in big, easy to read words, along with graphic autopsy photos in brilliant color and audio of a slow agonizing death by jumping. if one can confront that and come away with the idea that it's the right way to end their life, then they are going to do themselves in no matter what anyone says or does. it's a horrific way to die and we will continue to point that out, despite what "prevention advocates" think about it. personally, we think "prevention advocates" have had long enough to work their methods and so far, they haven't worked to any great effect. people have committed suicide since people first walked the earth and will continue to do so as long as there are people left on the planet. you will never stop suicide. if you truly want to hinder suicide, forget about this stupid website and set your aim at cigarettes. in this country alone, over one thousand people commit suicide every day with cigarettes. one thousand. every day. in all the decades that the skyway bridge has been sitting out in tampa bay, as of this writing, there has yet to be 200 self inflicted deaths in total. more than fifty years of skyway jumpers has equaled about five hours worth of cigarette suicides nationally. it's all in the math. why are these statistics never addressed? could it be the massive tax incentives for government to look the other way when dealing with cigarette suicides? we're willing to bet you take issue with us associating cigarette smoking with suicide. they are both simply self inflicted death and self inflicted death is suicide, regardless of the method or the time it takes to succeed. a child can see this. many refer to each cigarette as a "coffin nail". would you have written us your letter if our site was called smoketillyoudie.com? chances are we could post black lung imagery along with endless pain and suffering smoking death dialog with not a peep from your office.
• Take care not to glorify suicide victims and to limit the expressions of community or public memorials or services. we do not glorify jumpers. we have no control over how the community or the public responds to any given jumper, nor will we ever try to stop the grieving from grieving. friends and family have reached out to us as the only source of information about their loved one's demise, due to your insistence on keeping quiet about it.
• Remember to be sympathetic to the family in your documentation. we are very sympathetic to those left behind. however, we will not sit idly by if they rant and rail at us with threats of bodily harm and even death. if they insist on attacking us for what we do, then they can expect us to lose our compassion for their loss very quickly. everyone has total freedom and the responsibility to stay away from our awful website and we stress to them from page one to stay away if they do not like what we do. once they clickity click their way in, we feel they have little to complain about, but they still do.
• Refrain from oversimplified explanations of why someone would take their own life. Suicide is a very complex issue and is rarely the result of an incident; acknowledging that suicide is a result of a combination of factors is helpful. we never really know why anyone commits suicide, so we never venture a guess unless we spot clues. we contend anyone that takes themself out due to the fact "he don't love me any more" or "i lost my job" is an idiot and we tend to call them out on it. at least for now, calling idiots idiots is not against the law.
• Untreated depression can lead to suicide, so information about resources to deal with depression should be provided. Depression is treatable and this point should be publicized. we point this out all over the site.
• If the deceased suffered from a mental illness, this should be acknowledged. if it's in an official news report, we report it as it's reported, otherwise we have no idea whether they had any illness or not. one might assume some form of mental illness by simply thinking seriously about suicide in the first place. we contend that on a scale of 0-100, there are no perfect 100 point minds. as such, everyone has some form of mental illness, no matter how minimal. we're sure there are many head doctors out there that can find mental illness to some extent in all of us. they have a long list of dangerous head meds they can't wait to prescribe to everyone, starting with very young children. they even prescribe these meds to pets now. yay! no more depressed pets! it's complete insanity. people are put on these meds for many years and often, for life. many of these horrible drugs are well known to cause suicidal desires. the history of skyway jumpers on some sort of head med is quite evident. that alone should make people run screaming from a government run health care system, but that's a rant for another day and another website.
• It is a good and welcome gesture to publicize the warning signs of suicidal behavior, as well as community resources such as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), crisis hotlines, support groups, and mental health centers. Make sure information is current and up to date. Perhaps this number could be listed on all the pages of your website. again, we point this out all over the site and have added this number to the help page years ago. a link to the help page is on most every page twice, one at the top and one at the bottom.
If you have any questions or would like additional information and resources, please do not hesitate to contact Erin MacInnes with the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention at (850)[withheld] or [withheld]@myflorida.com, and for additional information on the epidemic of suicide please visit www.HelpPromoteHope.com. We would happy to help you make some revisions to your website to encourage help-seeking behavior. we welcome your input. please do send in specific changes and additions at any time, but do not expect us to dumb things down to placate some form of political correctness. we know the site is run as a suicide prevention tool. we know it has helped people. whether your office or well schooled "prevention advocates" recognize this, matters not. just because our method is different, does not make it wrong.
Director, Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention
Executive Office of the Governor
your email was time stamped 10:53am. two hours and twelve minutes later at 01:05pm, we received the following email, delivered directly to us from the this website's contact form:
"I am in my mid 40's and have been battling depression for 15 years now. I have made 3 suicide attempts, been hospitalized, been on many many meds etc. I also have a fascination with death for some reason. I can't begin to tell you how much time I have spent reading up on depression, suicide etc etc and it was not until I came to this site that I was stopped cold in my tracks. Your message about suicide "we feel suicidal people need to know you bring pain and shame to yourself, your friends, and your family. it's not a free pass to end your misery. it's simply a way to transfer your hurt and sorrow to those that know and love you" is the strongest, most direct anti-suicide message EVER. It sure made me open my eyes as to what my friends and family went through with me."
so what are we? merchants of sorrow, casually leading the mentally ill to certain death? or do we offer a different approach to this thing called suicide? you have no idea how many depressed, despondent, and suicidal people we have as facebook and former myspace friends, as well as others contacting us through the website in search of someone to vent their sorrow to. we have corresponded with many of them and know full well we have helped get them through whatever it is at that moment. in the end, it's up to them to figure out life and how to deal with it. that's all any of us can expect. we may have friends and family, but we are all on this trip through life alone when it comes to how we cope with it.
we try to raise our children to tell the truth. soon after, however, they learn people lie or deliver half truths. you're in government, so you know first hand how that portion of society is over-populated with liars. you are surrounded by them. we feel discussing suicide with truth is right. covering up the truth is akin to lying. people have a right to know all aspects of this jumping off the skyway bridge facet of suicide, even if they are mentally ill.
you are right there at the head of florida state government and from all appearances, you truly are trying to do something about suicide and we commend you for it. we highly recommend you and your staff take a long hard look at a real life approach to stopping, or at least, hindering suicides off the skyway bridge by employing this device, invented by a skyway jumper that survived. for anyone in government to declare they are concerned with bridge jumpers enough to suggest this site practice the same failed 'keep quiet' method used in the past and ignore this preventative device, is both foolish and irresponsible. at least have someone waste too much taxpayer money on a "government study" of this clearly obvious solution. they have spent millions of dollars on worthless cameras and crisis phones that barely make a dent at stopping jumpers. open your office door right now, yell out to the governor, and show him the ESR device. suggest that one side of the bridge be fitted with it and make a year long study to see which side has fewer jumpers. we don't think there needs to be a study to understand the outcome of such a test.
be the one person in government that will be credited with bringing an end to suicides off the skyway bridge, not for suggesting that we dumb down our stupid website because the mentally ill might get an idiotic idea that they already have. the ESR could very well spell the end of what we do, not by hiding suicide from the public and potentially suicidal people, but by preventing suicides off the skyway bridge and making this website obsolete. this site fading to black due to no more jumpers would be very welcome, as well as freeing up a lot of our time. thank-you, phil
05.18.10: we send the following email:
hello Erin MacInnes,
just a reminder, on 03.13.10, Todd Alan Korell, 43 years old, and on 05.16.10, Robert Amos Guest, 80 years old, jumped to their deaths off the skyway bridge. these jumps could have possibly been prevented, had the e.s.r. device been implemented as it should be. it is my opinion, that any and all future jumpers off that bridge are now the fault of those in charge of bridge safety, as well as your state office. to further review the e.s.r. device, please visit: http://www.skywaybridge.com/prevent.htm thank-you, phil
05.18.10, Hello Phil, I recall communicating with Mr. Aisheo earlier this year regarding the Skyway Bridge website and suicide contagion due to dangerous reporting.
Thank you for bringing the Electro Safety Rail to our attention. You are correct that one of the strategies to prevent suicides is to erect bridge barriers and we are grateful that you are being so proactive in your area to prevent such tragedies. Where we are able, we would like to help communities see these efforts come to fruition.
We would like to hear more about what you've done so far to implement. What are the roadblocks to setting this up? What is being done to raise money? Sincerely, Erin
05.18.10: hello erin, the only ones that have the power to erect any sort of jumper barrier, are the ones in government that overlook such structures and how they are maintained and managed. all that we can do as citizens, are to suggest things to those that are supposedly there to represent and work for we the people. we are the ones recommending that you do something about it.
the e.s.r. was invented by hanns jones. he has tried tirelessly to bring his invention to light, but has hit headlong into the typical brick wall government likes to throw at the very people it is hired to work for. he is of meager means and does not have the financial backing to go any further in implementing his device. i feel it's now up to those in charge of the bridge to get off their collective asses and do something about stopping jumpers from the skyway bridge.
you ask, "What are the roadblocks to setting this up?". the answer to that is obvious. those that claim they want to stop jumpers have done squat little about it. they erected useless cameras to video jumpers. cameras do not stop jumpers. they erected and maintain costly suicide hotline phones. these may stop the few that actually use them, most do not. they hired more patrols. the officers do stop some, but they can not get to all of them. they see many jumpers disappear over the side as they approach. the e.s.r. could easily give officers additional time to intercede in jumper activity.
"What is being done to raise money?". well, every car that traverses the bridge, plunks down $1 for that privilege. there are many thousands of cars every day that pay the buck. also, every dollar spent on gasoline consists of a high percentage of tax. supposedly, this tax is aimed at building and maintaining the roads and bridges of this state. what more needs to be done to raise money for jumper prevention? nothing. maybe if government didn't waste so much money, it would not need to squeeze even more out of the taxpayers to pay for more mismanagement. the money is already there. the will to do the right thing is not.
thank you for your response, phil
as of 11.05.15, there have been far too many more jumpers since this exchange. nothing has changed. imagine that.
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