Having just finished watching The BridgeÂ (a 2006 documentary chronicling the stories of those who committed suicide at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge throughout 2004),Â I came online in search of Jumpersâ€”the article that inspired the film with its comprehensive look at suicide at the bridge.
Both the documentary and the article pose some difficult questions but are also packed full of facts and figures about the bridge, those who work there, and those who have and haven’t survived the fall. If you have a passing interest in the phenomenon that is suicide, they’re both worth your time.
Not-so-fun fact: The Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place to commit suicide in the United States with an average of one suicide every 15 days. Depending on your source, the bridge is notâ€”contrary to popular beliefâ€”the most popular place to commit suicide in the world: that ‘honour’ goes to Aokigahara, Japan (‘The Sea of Trees’ at the base of Mount Fuji).
A strangely inspiring article comes out of this philosophical look at suicideâ€”that problem with which our species has been ‘gifted’. It feels like a call-to-action for your life.
We must recognize that there are multiple forms of suicide. You can release your claim to life by means of a rope, a gun, a tall building, or a bottle of pills. But you can also do it by more mundane means: by letting your life get stuck in a loop of repeated, shallow days, like a skipping record stuck on a boring track. In letting your future days become mere faded copies of your past days, you may not physiologically die, but you certainly cease toÂ live. Some methods of suicide are just slower and less deliberate than others, but in that way perhaps they smack even more of cowardice.
I also congratulate the author on writing a piece on suicide without resorting to tired Schopenhauer quotes; something I surely wouldn’t be able to do!
The British Medical Journal has an article that I’ve spoken of numerous times lately (IRL), discussing how media coverage of suicides affects the rate of similar suicides.
There is clear evidence that the media may affect method specific suicide rates. In Britain an excess of about 60 suicides by burning occurred in the 12 months after the widely publicised political suicide by burning of a woman in Geneva.
It is argued that suicides occur only among those who are already suicidal and it is only the choice of method that is influenced by publicity. [â€¦] Although media attention may precipitate clusters of suicide, these occur only among those who would commit suicide sooner or later any way, the publicity merely acting as a precipitant to an inevitable event.
Why would I be talking about this? Bridgend is not too far away.
Discussing an article in The New York Times on understanding and reducing suicide rates, Mind Hacks’ Vaughan presents us with some other interesting research on the topic.
If you want a flavour of really how simple the safety measures need to be to make a difference to suicide rate, research has found that putting pills in blister packs reduces lethal overdoses.
[â€¦] Making it necessary to pop each pill out of its plastic packaging rather than tipping them out of a bottle means less people kill themselves.
The difference is likely a matter of minutes, but it gives time for brief impulsive urges to pass, and every popped pill requires a single deliberate action towards suicide that gives a chance for the distressed person to reconsider.