The Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco is possibly one of the best known and most photographed bridges in the world. It opened to the public in 1937 and the engineers claimed that it was highly impractical and improbable for it to be used to commit suicide. How wrong they were! It’s popular. 1600 people have since used it for that very purpose and many have visited it with that intention but have been dissuaded by the police patrol on duty. In the past there was no formal guidance available for these police officers but they did their best. Now they are well equipped through proper training to deal with these situations.
What should one do or say if one knows someone so close to the edge?
Do – 1. Listen to understand
2. Be there
3. Look out for warning signs (if there is time) – Hopelessness, helplessness, social withdrawal and loss of interest in life.
Say – Possibly give them an opportunity to speak about it. Something like – Others in similar circumstances have had very dark thoughts about ending their lives. Have you?
I wish I had known these things before.
This very sensitive talk by Kevin Briggs, an ex-patrol officer at the Bridge says it all:
I wonder if railway staff should be offered training of a similar kind? After I go back to London, I have to make peace with my local railway station where it happened. Just thinking about it makes me sick. I suppose I shall cross that bridge when I come to it. The collateral damage done by suicide is immeasurable. There is no victim support as suicide is not a crime. But of course, I must go on.
His business card read – Play the drums. Be Happy 🙂
To me it means – Do your thing. Be Happy.