Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Golden Gate Jumpers

Every article I read in The New Yorker makes me love it even more. To have that kind of time and that amount of resources, not to mention talent, to write such incredible stories ... heaven.

One of my favorite magazine stories is called "Jumpers," published in 2003 and recommended to me fairly recently. It explores the phenomenon of the Golden Gate Bridge suicides. There's something alluring and romantic to people about killing themselves by jumping off this iconic monument of San Francisco. A 14-year-old girl even took a $150 cab ride from her home two hours away to the bridge so she could kill herself there. The conflict of the article lies in the fact that so many residents and public figures in the city don't want a suicide barrier erected on the bridge because it would upset the aesthetics. And this is despite the fact that other monuments that were previously attractive to suicidal people, including the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, all erected barriers. Those in favor of the barrier argue that suicide attempts are acute and when thwarted, more than 90 percent do not attempt again. With the grandeur of the bridge being so alluring to the depressed, as a sort of morbidly elegant and beautiful way to go, erecting a barrier might be enough for some to change to their minds. The article even speaks to a couple of the very few survivors of the fall. One of them said poignantly that as his foot left the support and he started falling, he realized everything that had been troubling him could have been fixed -- everything, except, what he had just done: jumped. He survived and got a second chance. But how many people, of the more than 1,000 when this article was published, may have had a similar thought but not survived to have that second chance?

It's such a good read. Find it here if you're interested.

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