The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge

The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge

The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful and most photographed structures in the world. It’s also the most deadly. Since it opened in 1937, more than 1,500 people have died jumping off the bridge, making it the top suicide site on earth. It’s also the only international landmark without a suicide barrier. Weaving drama, tragedy, and politics against the backdrop of a world-famous city, The Final Leap is the first book ever written about Golden Gate Bridge suicides. John Bateson leads us on a fascinating journey that uncovers the reasons for the design decision that led to so many deaths, provides insight into the phenomenon of suicide, and examines arguments for and against a suicide barrier. He tells the stories of those who have died, the few who have survived, and those who have been affected–from loving families to the Coast Guard, from the coroner to suicide prevention advocates.

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3 Comments so far »

  1. Rick Shaq Goldstein "*SHAQ*" said,

    Wrote on August 10, 2012 @ 12:16 am

    9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    “SHAQ” GOLDSTEIN SAYS: THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE-THE #1 SUICIDE SPOT ON EARTH. ONE SUICIDE NOTE SAID: “WHY DO THEY MAKE IT SO EASY?, April 19, 2012
    By 
    Rick Shaq Goldstein “*SHAQ*” (Danville, Ca, USA) –
    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)
      

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge (Hardcover)

    I’ve posted over five-hundred-reviews on Amazon in the last 5-6 years and though I’ve read some great and not so great books… there are a precious few and far between that ordinary words can’t accurately describe. If I tell potential readers that this book is haunting in its impact on any human being with the slightest empathy for other human beings… and that the author and this delicate… yet powerful subject… haunts you right from the get-go… then I’m beginning to get my point across. As I try to use words to describe and recommend this book to you… it is almost cathartic for me to discuss the enormous impact this book… this story… these gruesome… sad facts… these poor lost souls… who “accomplished” their own suicidal death… will have on you.

    In the past (As I “listen” to the words that are just flowing from me… I am feeling a little better because in my own small way… if my review is successful… and touches other people… like I’ve been touched… I won’t feel quite so horrible about this gut-wrenching catastrophe/problem) if I even hinted that a book was haunting… I would have meant it in the aftermath of reading the book… as the full impact would slowly settle in. Well… regarding this… sure to be “CLASSIC” book about this unique “problem”… the reader will be haunted immediately and continually.

    The beautiful wonder of the world the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE… has had more suicides than anywhere in the world. Why?… you may ask. Well, there’s the romanticized beauty of this architectural and artistic wonder. And part of that is true. But I’m sure most of you don’t know… that there is nothing but a FOUR-FOOT-HIGH-BARRIER across the bridge. FOUR-FEET-HIGH!! Old people… young people… physically healthy people… physically diminished people… can simply hop… jump… leap… crawl… pull themselves over this minor impediment to life and death. My G-d… even babies have been simply flipped over the FOUR-FOOT-HIGH-RAILING.

    And yet for some insane reason… and what a wonderful coincidence that I should come up with a descriptive word such as “insane” in trying to describe the reasons that the powers that be… that govern and *PROTECT* the bridge and areas around the bridge… refuse to install a higher barrier and or safety nets. Over *FIFTEEN-HUNDRED-PEOPLE* accomplished suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge. All of these poor souls’ names are listed in the back of the book… and I am in awe of the author’s capability to not only list the names… but discuss many of the heartbreaking individual stories throughout the book with the absolute greatest care… respect… sadness… and a seemingly lifetime of bewilderment and uproar… as to why the governing bodies refuse to put up barriers or nets. After all… the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building have them… and tourists still flock from around the world to enjoy them. So the Golden Gate excuse of artistry and views don’t hold water when we’re talking about human life.

    Intertwined with this enormous human tragedy… which is always painted with a caring… tearful… educational… brush… by an author that so truly cares… are details on the bridge itself from its inception… such as EACH of the two cables weigh over TWENTY-TWO-MILLION-POUNDS! But, when the author lays out the true ripple effect from one successful suicide individual… their life gone… the effect on their parents and family… the effect on the Coast Guard who have to recover the bodies… the coroners… the absolute destruction of the insides of a jumper’s body… and all the people who witnessed the suicide are effected for the rest of their lives.

    Though the book lists 1,500+ suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge since its inception in 1937… one of the main “sub-plots” the author wants to convey is that… as high as that number is… it’s assuredly much higher… since the governing boards don’t want tourism to be affected. So if a jump isn’t witnessed… and a body… as some are… due to the enormously powerful and unpredictable currents around the bridge are then found thirty miles away… it is not listed as a Golden Gate Suicide. They also don’t want to publicize the suicides so it won’t attract others.

    The entire book… though sooo sad at the despair that brought these individuals to their final decisions… is mesmerizing… and almost hypnotic… and will truly touch all your chords of humanity… especially when you realize that so many of the jumpers have similar jobs as we all do (they are listed also)… many are students… and young students with “A” grade averages… and the pain and unbearable suffering for the rest of the surviving family members lives.

    And then… there are the very, very, few jumpers… who survived the jump… and how many have dedicated their lives to helping others. And one thing all the…

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  2. Constance Walsh said,

    Wrote on August 10, 2012 @ 12:33 am

    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    the bridge of life and death, July 7, 2012
    By 
    Constance Walsh
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge (Hardcover)

    This review appeared in my search while searching something else. Coincidentally, I watched the Golden Gate Suicides on YouTube two weeks ago, also by “accident”. I am deeply moved and grateful for Shaq’s generous, emotional review. The fact that there is but one review of the book is at first shocking, until I remember that it all goes together: state-facilitated suicides, apathy and denial (chosen ignorance) of the public who use the bridge every day; bizarre value system of authorities, and most especially the dissociated consciousness of countless Americans on the issues of death and dying in general and suicide in particular. By dissociated I mean out of touch — with themselves as natural creatures of the earth, subject to her rhythms and need for balance, to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. Most of us manage to go on in such a state, but for suicides it is intolerabe.

    As the survivor of a close one who killed himself under my care (not on the bridge) I appreciate the reviewer’s expressed helplessness to describe his feelings. It is impossible to put into words what those left behind will experience. Although the experience stays with them for life, it changes, evolves, and in time can be a unique gift for learning compassion and wisdom, for others and especially ourselves.

    This is a commet to the comment and not to the book, which I have not read, but I am gratefulfor all sensitive exposure on suicide. In recent years, a new consciousness around death and dying is arising, in literature, art and in practice in hospitals, hospices and alternative situations. Amazing books such as “The Grace in Dying” and “Midwifing Death” have forever altered my awareness of the process that will be mine one day. James Hillman’s pioneering “Suicide and the Soul” saved my sanity during the period immediately following the suicide. If “The Final Leap” is anything like the youtube video, it is unforgettable and important. For me, the tiny, silent splashes way out yonder were more powerful than anything else. Infinite thanks to author John Bateson, (what courage and compassion you possess), and to the sole commentator so far, Shaq, may there be many more.

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  3. Ro Bo said,

    Wrote on August 10, 2012 @ 12:55 am

    2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Excellent, Moving, May 26, 2012
    By 
    Ro Bo (Raleigh, North Carolina United States) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge (Hardcover)

    Outstanding, moving, eloquent book on Golden Gate Bridge suicides. This is a work of great compassion. Wow. Those who have been personally affected by the suicide of a loved one will be moved to tears–tears of reflection and hope.

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