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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 31, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    Sombre Jumping-Off Point

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Last March while covering the Taoiseach’s visit to California, I took time out of a fairly hectic schedule to pay a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was my first time on the West Coast but the Bridge was well-known to me from movies, especially those of Clint Eastwood.

    It was a memorable experience: the Bridge was everything I had imagined, and more. Sadly, though, I learnt later that it was (still is, presumably) a favoured jumping-off point for suicides. Indeed, there have been as many as 2,000 since the Bridge was first built back in the 1930s.

    It’s good news, therefore, to read that, finally, a net is being put in place to catch the “jumpers”. Why hasn’t there been one in place for years? Disturbing also to read here that money from the Bridge tolls could not be used for this purpose.

    Suicide is a great and tragic mystery to most of us. How anyone can contemplate taking his/her life, when others go to so much trouble and expense to prolong even the most miserable and pain-ridden existence, is very hard to understand. It is especially so in a place like the US, the richest country in the world, with San Francisco one of the world’s most exciting cities. But as the song says: It never rains in California, but girl don’t they warn you, it pours, man it pours” (Click here if you want to hear it.)

    • One of the practical reasons against a net is that it would have encourage so called thrillseekers and people who had more mixed feelings about taking their own lives to jump from the bridge, so increasing the numbers that jumped. Jumping from a bridge like that is much less likely to be a cry for help if there is almost no chance of surviving.

    • barbera says:

      Very good idea, the net, for the Golden Gate Bridge, although who could have imagined that such a practical thing could be so expensive. I wasn’t sure (in the case of those very sad suicides) if death would have occurred before the end of the jump (200 ft) into the water, or on account of drowning, or on account of collision with the water. It would be good if they could come up with some kind of net solution also for very tall skyscrapers in the event of fire or explosions of any kind.

    • A very good idea I saw at a hotel in China was an airtank. The room was on the 40th floor so you could presumably walk through the smoke and down the fiire-stairs. Haven’t seen it anywhere else, though I do not go out of my way to stay on the higher floors.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Why shoud there be a net – who gives anyone else the right to deny another person of the free choice to end their life – if people were allowed that option and to make it in a mature grown manner and carry it out in a safe secure environment there’d be no need for each suicide to be a violent physical act – is it the violence of the act or the emotional shock that hurts the person’s loved ones so much – I would imagine it’s the thought of their loved one having to committ such a violent act on themselves that hurts the most rather than the fact they decided to end their life.

      The debate is starting here in the UK but by the time my chronic illness turns terminal I fully expect and hope that as a grown adult I’ll be allowed make an informed decision about when enough is enough for me and to be able to choose the point of my going.

    • Jenny says:

      This is nothing to be taken lightly. Recently a dear friend of mine took his own life by throwing himself in front of a train. Why cant people stop and think about the cold hard reality of these things? People are dead. FACE THAT and try thinking of better ways of making lives better instead of merely ,,,and boringly,,,reporting “favored” jumoing off points. And pardon my spelling of the word “favored”. I am an american and I dont spell certain words in a pansy english way. RIP Paul. Ave Maria and God help these poor eejits who have no clue about the seriousness of these things. HELP PEOPLE. PLEASE?

    • xx says:

      @5 — You say you are American and yet you know, and can spell the word “EEJITS” — weird

    • Okay, folks, I’m off on holidays and this discussion is now closed. My thanks to all who showed a genuine interest. I intend to be back blogging in a few weeks’ time and I hope you will all still be full of vituperation, anger and the occasional sharp insight. ‘Bye for now :-)


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