With the Golden Gate Bridge comes the Image of an idealistic death. The romanticism of the bridge made it a popular place to go for people to jump to their deaths. The water below seems almost perfectly symbolic of the cleansing of pain and there’s an effortless crossing over what might as well be the River Styx from Greek Mythology. However, the jump is anything but.
On impact, bones are shattered and organs are pierced by those shards. Many die instantly, but for those who don’t, they flail around helplessly in the water. Of the few survivors, they reported feeling regret the moment they jumped and knew that they made a mistake, according to Kyle Briggs, an officer who tries to prevent suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Over recent years, officers have been sent to the Golden Gate Bridge to patrol the edges. Briggs, one of these officers, discussed his experiences on his TED talk by the name of “The bridge between suicide and life”. His job entails talking people down from the ledge, yet what he has learned is that talking is a lot less important than the listening.
Suicidal people may not have any intention of causing those around them pain. In fact, it may be the last thing on any of their minds. So fixated on ending their own pain, they may not realize how their actions may cause harm to others. However, suicide is not about the those who’ll be affected. It’s about the person who is suicidal. One common issue regarding suicide is the lack of education people receive regarding how to handle suicidal thoughts in others. Instead of offering a listening ear, people may put words in their mouths and talk over them.
One particularly jarring experience for Briggs that left him stunned and wordless was when a young man, Jason Garber, brought up the myth of Pandora’s box before jumping to his death. To those unfamiliar with the story of Pandora’s Box, it is a Greek myth used to explain why bad things exist in the world. Zeus, god of lightning, gifted Pandora with a box and told her not to open it. However, Pandora’s curiosity got the best of her.
She opened the box and all of life’s miseries had been let out into the world. The last thing remaining inside of the box was hope. According to Greek Boston, humans have held onto this hope in order to survive what was let out.
Now, as asked by Garber, what do you do when hope isn’t in there? All I can leave you with, is that some people do come down from the ledge. Briggs said he has only had a few people make the jump. However, a far greater number of people get down and live their lives while speaking out against suicide. Maybe that can be hope for you. That other people have made it out.
I won’t pretend to understand and I won’t tell you what to do. Just know that there is always someone there to hear what you’re going through and there are others who have gone through it and made it out. And if you’re someone who encounters a suicidal person, don’t pretend to know the answer, because it’s likely you don’t. Just listen.