17. August 2009


Durch eine ungewöhnliche Karte mit der Auflistung der beliebtesten Stellen auf der Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, von denen der letzte Sprung ins Wasser von diesem Leben heraus begangen wurde: "Bridge to Nowhere: a Map of Golden Gate Jumpers", bin ich auf den unten zitierten und überaus interessanten Artikel gestossen. Mehr als 1200 Menschen beendeten ihr Leben seit der Eröffnung der Golden Gate Bridge im Jahre 1937...

Bild unter GNU-Lizenz für freie Dokumentation: Appell an der Golden Gate Brücke an die Suizidgefährdeten (Photograph und copyright: David Corby, 2006)

"Tho the dark be cold and blind,
Yet her sea-fog's touch is kind,
And her mightier caress
Is joy and the pain thereof;
And great is thy tenderness,
O cool, grey city of love!

Poet George Sterling wrote those words in 1923, and the late Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was fond of quoting the last line. Sterling's words effuse romantic notions of San Francisco, its generous spirit and the "tenderness" of its residents. In a city defined by loss and impermanence -- settled by gold speculators, razed by earthquake and fire, notorious as an open port where anything goes -- Sterling found forgiveness and redemption, a balm for loneliness.
We like to feel good about where we live -- to believe that San Francisco retains its warmth and charitable heart. But the "cool, grey city of love" has for 68 years neglected an epidemic of death. Whereas officials at the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and other suicide landmarks recognized a crisis and erected suicide barriers, the Golden Gate Bridge still offers a welcome mat to someone in search of a quick exit.
We sense the tragedy but view it in the abstract, rationalizing the deaths with a laissez-faire attitude: "They have a right to end their lives if they choose." During the months of reporting on this series, the majority of people interviewed voiced this sentiment, often in glib terms. "If they didn't have the Golden Gate Bridge, they'd just kill themselves another way." (...)


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