The Golden Gate Bridge in California is famous for several reasons. It is a well-known tourist destination. The throng of people who assemble there at any given moment means it’s easy to overlook someone who climbs over the rails with self-destructive intent. In 2004, 24 people jumped to the deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge. Three bodies were never recovered.
Although every ‘lost life’ featured in this film is significant, this review will focus on the remarkable testimony of Kevin Hines who survived his jump from the Bridge. Kevin was bipolar and had a history of hallucinations and hearing voices. Whereas some head towards the bridge with steely determination, he was crying on the way, and on arrival kept hoping someone would notice his pain and intervene. What makes a person go over the line from thinking about suicide (suicide ideation) to an actual attempt? There must be an acute psychological pain which overshadows the logical mind and the normal instinct of self-preservation.
He said the second his hands left the railings, he felt a rush of regret. The only person who could save him now was the Almighty Himself. The odds were against him – it was a 4-7 second fall at a speed of 120 miles per hour. Nevertheless he uttered a desperate prayer, and managed to hit the water in a half-seated position, but the injuries he sustained were near fatal – He shattered his lower lumbar region into tiny pieces which penetrated his internal organs but missed his heart.
This film highlights the intense regret of suicide survivor, Kevin, who beat the odds and survived his jump where most do not. He did not regret his survival but that he had jumped in the first place. His life’s mission is now to speak to as many as he can to deter them from such a fatal decision.
But there are those who are also labelled as suicide survivors – family and friends of those who complete their suicide attempts and leave a trail of brokenness in their wake. There are missing parts of their lives and hearts which can never be replaced. One survivor, Gene’s friend, was angry because he never thought his friend would hurt him in this way. He felt, as did others who knew Gene, that he had so much to live for. In fact, had Gene delayed his decision by a day, he would have probably picked up the telephone message that he was being offered a dream job as a manager. It was left the same morning he jumped but we can only presume he did not get the message. We all play roles of incalculable significance in one another’s lives. One stranger who sighted someone jumping from the bridge, but was too late to intervene, reflected that she may have been the last person to see him alive. So, whether strangers or loved ones, we may all be classed as suicide survivors.
News of someone’s suicide could so easily re-inforce a sense of hopelessness in us, fuelling an already latent or palpable depression. But it is to the survivors and not the completers that we must always turn. They wished the outcome would have been different, and that their loved ones were still alive. Now they carry the burden of grief, guilt and sadness for the rest of their lives. Indeed, suicide never ends pain – it only transfers it to others.