Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Film captures Golden Gate Bridge suicide


May 1, 2006

By Pat Murphy

The top of a white truck crossing the Golden Gate Bridge seemed the only movement until a lower corner splash in San Francisco Bay.

The truck kept moving, not slower, not faster, across the span.

Life confirming color hues of the panoramic Bay shot changed not a whit.

Everything changed and nothing changed.

Another jumper was dead but it was too quick for life to notice.

The moment captured on film by producer Eric Steel was among six Bridge suicides screened Sunday as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Hundreds packed the Kabuki Theater auditorium and balcony, clogging aisles, for this unseen view of the Bridge.

More people have chosen the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide than any other location in the world. Their ranks exceed 1,500.

'The Bridge' opens to an audience suddenly stiffened by a close-up shot.

A robust man of middle years saunters from left of the screen and steps smartly over the rail.

He looks the classic buoyant uncle.

Without so much as a by your leave or screw you first, he seats himself, looks down to the right, down to the left, and leans forward every bit as casually to drop himself dead.

Very few in the audience gasped. More time was needed to grasp scope of the contradiction.

Steel crafted two components of the film.

Family and friends provide build-up to their loved one's suicide and its impact on their lives.

Muscles tightened around tear swollen eyes of one friend.

"He had people in his life who loved him and he hurt me," protests a friend in anger and loss.

Steel interweaves loved one recollections with scenes of those about to jump still pacing the Bridge.

For some, the pacing was long.

"Take a picture? You want me to take a picture of you and I'm here committing suicide?" Kevin Hines thought to an ebullient tourist.

For some, the pacing saved them.

Steel also captured moments of intervention preventing the final leap.

Bridge security personnel scan live video surveillance of Bridge walkways, grown adept at spotting suicidal indications.

"It happens all the time," a Bridge toll-taker said softly to a woman who had just witnessed a suicide in her rear-view mirror.

A professional still photographer caught photos of a woman standing next to him on the bridge as she climbed over the rail.

The slight woman dallied below just long enough for the burly photographer to lift her by one hand back to safety and to arriving security officers.

Hines in generosity accommodates tourist photo shoot and then jumps.

He survived the 225-foot drop, angry it took the Golden Gate Bridge District so many years to seriously consider a suicide barrier. The district is comprised of multi-county representatives.

"I think there's been movement recently because district elections in San Francisco permitted more forward thinking people to sit on the board," San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano told the Sentinel yesterday.

Ammiano led a years long effort to erect a barrier with the Bridge District last week approving the final $250,000 of a $2 million suicide barrier study.

Dr. Mel Blaustein, head of the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California, accompanied Ammiano for West Coast premier of The Bridge.

"Suicide is impulsive, preventable, and treatable," Blaustein asserted to the Sentinel.

Visit San Francisco Suicide Prevention.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa