It bothers me that the Golden GateBridge is the most popular suicide destination on the planet. But I can’t help thinking that as long as this is the case, we might as well learn something from it.
So here is my idea. We put kiosks on either end of the bridge and a few out in the middle. Inside the kiosks, we place questionnaires and pens. Outside the kiosks, we put signs politely asking potential jumpers to answer a few questions before they throw themselves off the bridge.
I know what you are thinking. That I am one sick and twisted individual. But let’s set that issue aside for the moment. I think there are some valuable things we can learn from this idea. Because I think each and every story might help us learn about the causes of suicide and maybe help other people in the future. But more than that, we will hopefully get some information from people who don’t end up jumping, stories of poignancy and hope.
The more I think about it, the more I come to believe that we should put the questionnaire online… make a website… because I bet there are lots of people who never make it to the bridge at all. There are statistics behind the bizarre popularity of this one particular location being used so often as a place to exit this world.
I want to know about the individual stories. Who traveled the farthest just to jump off the bridge? How long did they have to save up for a vacation they never planned to come back from? Don’t they have any nice, tall bridges where they came from? Why jumping instead of some other method?
And what about random chance, fate, luck?
Surely some people got to San Francisco and just fell in love with it. Or what if a guy flew all the way here from Australia, and while waiting for a taxi to go to the bridge, he met a girl, and now he doesn’t want to die, he wants to live forever… with her. How many people got into a minor traffic accident or got a flat tire on the way to the bridge and just gave up?
And what about people that are afraid of heights? I bet more than one person just chickened out. That is a long way down to that cold, dark water. Or how many people just didn’t realize how cold and windy it can get on the bridge and decided they just wanted a cup of coffee and maybe one of those sourdough bread bowls full of clam chowder you can get at Fisherman’s Wharf?
Do you see what I am getting at? For every person who jumps, there might be a thousand stories that didn’t end that way. Maybe the website will catch on and people will really open up about why they want to kill themselves. We have nothing to lose and much to gain.