There is nothing like watching the red double towers of the Golden Gate Bridge appear through the fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. The bridge is, of course, iconic. It is a symbol for the great city of San Francisco, but the Golden Gate is also a place of tragedy and pain. Since it’s opening in 1937, there have been over 1500 confirmed deaths many of which were people feeling lost and alone, positive that there was no other alternative to end their suffering. It’s estimated that every two weeks at the Golden Gate, there is one jumper. That’s a low estimate too. Some say as high as 2 people every 10 days. So, for some the Golden Gate Bridge looks like a quick solution to a hard problem, and some just see a beautiful bridge.
The feeling that came over me as I stepped onto the steel was a mix of joy, sorrow, and awe. There was a time in my life where I probably would have jumped off side and became another suicide statistic, but where I’m at now provided me a new outlook. Hope.
Before you enter the bridge’s walkway, you pass a wall with visitor information and various signs. Pedestrians on the right. Cyclists on the left. This bridge will close at 9 pm, etc, etc. However, one blue sign caught my eye immediately and brought a smile to my face. “The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic. There is hope.” Further down the bridge, there was another one of these signs.
Some also stated “Free support 24/7,” along with a number to text. Now, I can’t say how many people take advantage of this number, but I like to hope it’s helped quite a f
ew people. With the Golden Gate being ranked as the second most used “suicide bridge,” something had to be put up to help. The city is also installing safety nets along the perimeter of the bridge, which is estimated to save so many lives.
2% of Golden Gate jumpers survive
the fall. One of those survivors is Kevin Hines. I’ve listened to him in speak through a variety of platforms like YouTube videos, interview, documentaries, and hopefully soon, I’ll read his book (it’s kinda expensive). In every interview I’ve watched him give, he’s said this: The minute my hands left the rail and I started to fall, I realized something. I did not want to die. I’ve held this story quite close to my heart and think of it often.
As I walked across the bridge with my sister beside me, I made the comment that a few years ago I would have jumped myself.
She turned to me and said, “Don’t say that. That makes me sad.”
“But it’s a happy thought. That’s not where I’m at anymore,” I replied.
And it’s true. When I get to talk about things like that in the past tense, it makes me happy. I no longer want to die. Does that take away the suicidal thoughts? Absolutely not. I 100% stood the rails of the bridge barrier and thought about what it would be like and if it’d be worth it, but I’m strong enough now to push most of those thoughts out, and say, “No. It won’t be worth it.”
So, as cliche and touristy as it may be, the Golden Gate Bridge was definitely my favorite place in San Francisco. What once had been a place I associated with death and pain had become a place of hope and inspiration. I felt love for all those people suffering, in some way shape or form, who had walked across that bridge and chose to stay.
I mentioned Kevin Hines not to far back and if you haven’t listened to his story, I encourage you to seek it out. It’s a very inspiring story. I would also recommend the documentary, “The Bridge,” which can be found on YouTube (rent or some people have it up for free), and Amazon Video.