The Golden Gate Bridge is a national treasure. It has also become the most used place in the United States for people to end their lives! There is a large controversy brewing about installing a net on both sides to stop people from jumping to their deaths.
I found it interesting why some people did not want the net up because they thought it took away from the appearance of the bridge. As if that is a reason to stop people from jumping! Sometimes, I really do not understand people. I guess everyone has their own opinion, but is that a real reason to try and stop using the bridge to kill yourself?
According to this article in the New York Times, there were a record forty-six suicides in 2013 from people jumping off the bridge! You may read the article by clicking here or click on this URL: http://news.yahoo.com/golden-gate-bridge-suicides-san-francisco-jumpers-031118820.html
The issue of mental health is discussed in the article and needs to be discussed more on a local, state and national level. When we hear of another school, mall or business place shooting, the issue is brought up about the shooter, but is quickly dropped as the twenty-four hour news cycle moves on to another topic. The problem is people with metal health issues do not lose those issues in that twenty-four hour cycle.
Across the country, we are seeing funding being cut for programming, mental health clinics are being closed, often times insurance policies do not cover mental health issues, and the stigmatization of mental health problems is still rampant in our society.
As soldiers are been coming back oftentimes after multiple tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we see a preponderance of PTSD and other mental health issues related to their time not only in their active duty serving overseas, but in the way they are being treated by the Veterans Administration. The numbers of veterans and suicides and/or attempts is far above the national average. In fact, it is at an epidemic rate.
According to the Veterans Affairs Department, it is not just the active-duty military who face this problem. The report states at least twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day! This adds up to more than two thousand veterans killing themselves so far this year alone.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011, (the most recent year they have the data on) suicide ranks tenth amongst death in the United States. That percentage goes up even higher when one considers only teenagers. I have not even addressed that issue yet.
Several years ago, after visiting a school one day, a young student asked if she could talk to me. We went in to a classroom and she told me she had tried to kill her self twenty-seven times! As she was telling me this, she rolled up the sleeves on her arms and there were a number of scars on each forearm, one right after another.
I asked her why she was doing it. She told me, "God was telling her to kill herself."
I asked her if she really wanted to die? She said, "No." She also told me no one paid any attention to her and that was a way of getting attention.
When I asked her if she really didn't want to die and God was telling her she needed to, I said, "What would happen if you really did commit suicide?" You should have seen the look on her face! That thought and never really crossed her mind. She was just looking for attention!
Several years ago, I read a report that stated teenagers try to kill themselves fifty-five times every hour. Every day they succeed eighteen times. Which begs the question, "If you try to kill yourself and do not accomplish your stated goal, is that a successful or unsuccessful suicide attempt?" I have often contemplated that question and had many conversations about it.
I do not know what those numbers are today because every site I researched lumps the group into the 15-24 age group. I looked at several sites and did a number of different queries in doing the research for this post. The numbers are staggering no matter how you look at it! Feel free to do your own Google research for just about any phrase concerning suicide and you will be amazed at how many people, the age groups, the reasoning, the success rates, the recidivism, trying to understand and watch for characteristics of someone who is considering suicide you will find.
The more time I spend doing this post, the more depressing it gets. I started out at the Golden Gate Bridge and found myself digging deeper and deeper into a very complicated subject. I believe it is time to quit.
If you read the article from the New York Times on the Golden Gate Bridge, you saw this photograph. When I first lived in Berkeley and again in San Bruno, I had occasion to drive over the bridge a number of times and it is breathtaking. I could also see it from the dining room when I lived in Cowell Residence Program and watch the fog roll in over the bay and Alcatraz Island. That was fun for an eighteen-year-old in the middle of winter fresh from Minnesota.
A friend of mine gave me a photograph of the bridge from a similar angle and I had it hanging in my house. I like the bridge so much and I like this picture; so, I am going to post it here:
I look forward to your comments.