Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Look Out Below: A fascinating article at the New Yorker about the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide magnet. Apparently, it is the in place to kill yourself, should you be so inclined. It is no laughing matter, I suppose, but the article is pure black comedy in some parts. Sample quotes:
Many jumpers wrap suicide notes in plastic and tuck them into their pockets. [One] wrote, “Absolutely no reason except I have a toothache.”

And where else but San Francisco would somebody say something like this:

The idea of building a barrier was first proposed in the nineteen-fifties, and it has provoked controversy ever since. “The battle over a barrier is actually a battle of ideas,” Eve Meyer, the executive director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, told me. “And some of the ideas are very old, ideas about whether suicidal people are people to fear and hate.”

Huh? And as usual, everybody has an angle:

The coverage intensified in 1973, when the Chronicle and the Examiner initiated countdowns to the five-hundredth recorded jumper. Bridge officials turned back fourteen aspirants to the title, including one man who had “500” chalked on a cardboard sign pinned to his T-shirt. The eventual “winner,” who eluded both bridge personnel and local-television crews, was a commune-dweller tripping on LSD.
In 1995, as No. 1,000 approached, the frenzy was even greater. A local disk jockey went so far as to promise a case of Snapple to the family of the victim.

And then there's this:

In 1970, the board of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District began studying eighteen suicide-barrier proposals, including a nine-foot wire fence, a nylon safety net, and even high-voltage laser beams. The board’s criteria were cost, aesthetics, and effectiveness. In 1973, the nineteen-member board, most of them political appointees, declared that none of the options were “acceptable to the public.” (The laser-beam proposal was vetoed because of the likelihood of “severe burns, possibly fatal, to pedestrians and personnel.”)

Am I the only one picturing Dr. Evil at a conference table crying, "Throw me a bone, people!" And lastly, Captain Obvious makes an appearance:

Survivors often regret their decision in midair…

Ya think?