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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
too angry to write anything coherent 
10th-Sep-2008 04:52 pm
fck fck fck
Mayor's committee: No ugly suicide barriers on Golden Gate Bridge

It's a bad idea to build 10-foot-tall railings and glass panels as suicide barriers on the Golden Gate Bridge, according to a committee organized by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The five-member group recommended today that the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District choose "non-physical" solutions to preventing suicides on the span.

For the most part, that means extra people - mostly volunteers - patrolling the bridge to talk down possible jumpers.

If that's not good enough for the bridge authority, the mayor's committee says a net beneath the bridge would be the least offensive option. That position was also supported by voters in an unscientific online poll in July.

Committee members included private architects, bridge engineers and artists.

God forbid there be anybody on the committee who was a psychiatrist, or an anti-suicide activist, or an expert on depression, or anything like that.

You want to know what the "ugly" barriers would look like? How bad the "ruined" view would be? Well, here's one view:

And another:

This essay was printed in the Chronicle this July. It's written by a man whose 17-year-old daughter committed suicide from the bridge earlier this year. It does a good job of addressing and refuting the anti-barrier arguments.

Which is good, because I certainly can't — I wind up in a state of spluttering with rage too quickly to say much that's coherent. "Fuck you and your view, and I hope you're haunted by the ghosts of every last suicide victim since the bridge was built" would not be constructive, I think, although it'd sure feel satisfying to say.
11th-Sep-2008 02:41 pm (UTC) - it's funny that pigeon "fences" are cool...
but, this isn't visually...

11th-Sep-2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
I must respectfully disagree with anyone who says that "suicidal people cannot be stopped". Sorry, that's crap. I've been there. All you need is twenty-four hours, or a chance to talk to the right person, or a change in your medication (gods I miss the Prozac sometimes), or, in extreme cases, something to eat and a nap. Seriously. I'm with you, Lexica.
12th-Sep-2008 02:47 am (UTC)
I've known people (including myself) who felt suicidal at a particular moment, and who with support and intervention, moved through those moments. I've also known people who could not, for whatever reason, move through those moments. No amount of care, intervention, medication, supervision, and just plain love stopped these people from eventually destroying themselves. I miss them every day.

I am not an expert, but I would suspect that far more people fall into the first category than the second. Aesthetic arguments for refusing to keep people alive just a little bit longer when they cannot take care of themselves at a particular moment -- well, gosh, it shouldn't surprise me anymore when folks don't have their priorities straight, but it still does. Why is this even a debate?
12th-Sep-2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Or rather, I should have said, "I am not an expert, but I am persuaded by the studies that suggest that far more suididal people fall into the first category than the second."
13th-Sep-2008 01:08 am (UTC)
I think what I don't get (and I did not read the essay), is what this is really about. I mean, I don't think there's an all or nothing about this. Might one person who was feeling suicidal be deterred by the barriers long enough to shift gears? Sure. Might another one simply select another option? Absolutely. Some suicides are planned over time in great detail. Some are more spontaneous.

So, I guess the question is: what control do we have over the fact of suicide? I'd say: very little. It's factness is ... a fact.

Does the gesture of the barriers change the fact of suicide in a substantive way? I don't think it does. It feels like a fear and avoidance response. Put up the barriers and capitulate to powerlessness. The issues of sustainability are not addressed. We make the New Safety and walk away?

I don't think so.

I have no objection to the barriers beyond the way in which they might detract from what matters most.

At the same time...

I do think that there are contexts in which suicide is a right. But that's another topic for another day.
13th-Sep-2008 01:26 am (UTC)
Ok. Now I read the piece. Are there literally multiple suicides per month off the bridge? That seems hard to believe. I think his point, though, about what would happen if it was a building downtown is valid.

I think his article obscures the question even more because his emotional logic is front and center. He calls what his daughter did an impulse, indicating that she'd be alive if the bridge had barriers. He doesn't actually know this. He doesn't actually know what happened. It's easy to think that, to cleave to If Only. Making the If Only be about the bridge is easier than making the If Only be about himself -- I think it's a totally human response and utterly understandable.
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