I have been writing this blog post in my head for two years. It started when I watched the documentary, The Bridge. I heard about the film a few years ago on This American Life and was intrigued by it, as grisly as that might sound. I wanted to see it but was also hesitant for very obvious reasons. A couple of years ago I found myself alone for a few hours with nothing to do so I rented it from iTunes and watched it. It really affected me on a very deep, profound level. I cried and cried while I watched it. I was still going through the grieving process after watching my stepdad die, so there was that element (going face to face with Death itself) as to why it affected me so much. But, also, suicide has played a role in my life in different ways. I think that is why I felt the need to watch this film. I needed to face this “demon” and watching the film was one way of doing that.
I went to the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday and walked the 3 miles across and back. It was a weird experience. It was unexpectedly weird. I went there with every intention of having a really good time and shooting some great photos. But it ended up being a completely different experience. I started walking across the bridge and I instantly thought of those people from the film. And all of the other people from other years who came here to end their lives. More than 1200. One person every two weeks. One person every two weeks has died by jumping off of this bridge. When you enter the bridge you are greeted with a phone and a sign that says, “There is hope. Make the Call. The consequences of jumping off of this bridge are fatal and tragic.” The railing is low. Anyone can climb up onto it. There is nothing to prevent someone from climbing up on it. I stood there and looked out over the railing and realized this was the last thing they saw. I walked along and my heart sank. I couldn’t help but wonder about the horrible pain these 1200+ people felt before they ended it. I could almost feel their pain. How could a person not feel the pain of 1200+ people who have died here? It was palpable It was almost a living presence.
It was difficult. It was the longest three miles I have ever walked.