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A Long Way Down

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I recently saw Eric Steel’s 2006 documentary film The Bridge, about people who commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Steel got permission from local authorities to set up cameras on public land that would allow him to film the bridge for an entire year during almost all daylight hours. What he didn’t tell them was that his real reason for doing so was to film people jumping off the bridge (He captured footage of 23 of the 24 known suicides that year. 2004 was a typical year in this regard, as there is about one confirmed suicide from the bridge every two weeks, on average. The real number is higher, as some people jump off without being seen, usually at night, and their bodies sometimes aren’t recovered).

It’s a disturbing and thought-provoking film — it includes footage of several people jumping — but it doesn’t address a very live political issue, which is what ought to be done about making it more difficult to jump off what is currently believed to be the world’s most popular suicide spot. Steel’s film was inspired by this great piece which appeared five years ago in the New Yorker.

More thoughts on the subject here.

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