Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Bridge

I was recently introduced to a documentary called "The Bridge," which I watched via Hulu the other day. I couldn't keep my eyes off of the screen - I almost missed my yoga class because of it!

It chronicles the suicides that have become so common from people jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. So far, more than 1,200 people have died there, with an average of 2 people jumping per week.

This picturesque, well known representation of San Francisco is the No. 1 place in the world where people commit suicide. How utterly sad that something so beautiful is the place where something so ugly happens all of the time.

The documentary is based on this New Yorker article, which I highly recommend. The detail in which the article goes into as far as what happens when people jump (it's a 4-second fall at about 75 mph, so it's like hitting concrete - if a jumper doesn't die on impact, he/she drowns or dies of hypothermia).

The most disturbing part of the documentary, to me, was that there was actual, high-quality footage of people jumping off. You got to watch their last moments alive, some of them pacing back and forth contemplating the decision, before they hurl themselves over the rail.

Needless to say, it was hard to watch.

I don't think it was meant to be a sensationalized film showing suicide - it mostly featured interviews with several jumpers' family and friends, talking about the days preceding their loved one's suicide.

One jumper had schizophrenia, and the way her mom and sister talked about it kind of upset me - they seemed almost relieved that she was "in peace" now. They didn't even seem that disturbed by the whole thing. Maybe that's their coping mechanism, but it still seemed off to me.

Another intriguing part was when a jumper was interviewed. Now 24, this young man had attempted suicide by jumping off the bridge when he was 18. To hear his account of how he got to that point, how he told his dad goodbye and knew for sure it was the last time he'd see him, and how immediately he regretted jumping the instant he did it - it gave me knots in my stomach. Only 2% of people survive when they jump, so it's amazing to think that this boy got a second chance.

I recommend watching the movie, but just be forewarned that it is disturbing at times. Suicide is something I don't quite understand, even though my family has been touched by it. I just don't know what could bring someone to that point - and even worse, how it seems so likely that bringing them out of that dark place might be impossible.

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