Thoughts on the Summit on Suicide Prevention and Awareness


I went to see Dr. Joiner speak at the Civic Center in Lima on September 18 for the Summit on Suicide Prevention and Awareness.  There was so much information presented at the summit that day.  I learned a whole lot, as did my husband who accompanied me.

Dr. Joiner repeatedly referred to a documentary, The Bridge.  This is a 2006 documentary by Eric Steel, the result of one year’s filming of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. In the year that Steel and his crew captured footage of the bridge, they also captured a number of suicides, the result of various people jumping from the bridge. In the days following the summit, I decided to watch the full documentary, The Bridge.  As you can imagine, this film is both haunting yet poignant.

While the footage shown in the documentary of those who actually jumped is quite unforgettable, I think we, as viewers, are so desensitized when it comes to violence, that the “shock value” of the film itself doesn’t necessarily have the profound effect that it should. Don’t get me wrong; the footage of the jumpers is powerful. I just think that as a society we are so used to graphic, disturbing images that, as a viewer, I really had to keep reminding myself that this is real. This is not an action movie starring Liam Neeson. This is real life, and these people are taking their lives. And we’re watching it.
So while the actual images of individuals ending their lives is without a doubt moving, it is the interviews conducted with friends or relatives of the jumpers that I found to be the most stirring aspect of the documentary. Eric Steel, the filmmaker, conducted interviews with some of the loved ones of those who had jumped from the bridge, and in my mind, there was a reoccurring theme in the film. Many of these people he captured on film, revealing their thoughts of their, for the most part, now deceased loved ones, all had one thing in common. The attitude just seemed to be pretty defeated…like they’d done everything they could for their son, or daughter, or friend… and if that person were going to jump, well…he or she was going to jump. It did seem that many of them had regrets, but the overwhelming tone was one of…acceptance, maybe?

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I agree, that if a person is determined to take his or her life, that person often does find a way to do it, no matter how much other people seem to attempt to intervene and prevent it. It is incredibly sad, tragic, and haunting, but unfortunately, anyone with free will has that potential to end his or her life. Hopefully as a society we can talk more about it and continue to discuss suicide so that the stigma goes away and we can productively prevent people from committing suicide.