Sunset on the Golden Gate Bridge
Originally uploaded by Wiggum03
I won’t be seeing this movie when it screens next weekend at the Chicago International Film Festival:
An Architectural marvel and one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, the Golden Gate Bridge has also been the site of over 1,300 suicide attempts.
With cameras set around the bridge throughout 2004, director Eric Steel captured 23 successful suicides and one survivor. This discomforting footage is accompanied by interviews with witnesses, family, and friends of the deceased to seek out what the camera could not capture – the thoughts and events preceding the tragic moments.
I won’t be seeing it because the thought of the camera’s eye watching without interceding horrifies me. I won't be seeing it because I’ve been on the periphery of suicides and the complexity of the grief that they leave in their wake is something that I doubt I’ll ever comprehend – or want to encounter again.
But I also won't be seeing it because I feel strangely connected to these folks, and almost complicitous: My maternal grandparents own a mortuary in Mill Valley which, because of its proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge, receives the lion’s share of Golden Gate suicides as “clients” -- clients who over the years put food in their children’s mouths; into my mother's mouth.
I learned of this strange community contribution through the individual who runs the place now, my grandparents having leased it to him when they retired many years ago. He calls them the Jumpers, and it only came up when I visited some time back with my mother to see the old place -- to learn more about where she had done some of her growing up in the little apartment over the embalming room (!) -- because a Jumper had just arrived the night before.
“They’re just like jelly when they come in,” he said. "Every bone breaks when they hit the surface." The water transforms them into one of its own.