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Old 11 January 2011, 04:16 PM
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Ana Ng Ana Ng is offline
 
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Default Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempt survivors report change of heart?

I have heard it said in popular culture that studies of people who survived jumping off the Golden Gate bridge reported an overwhelming change of heart after they jumped. (This was, for instance, used as a plot point in an episode of "Medium.") All references I turned up online seemed to be about the idea itself, but were not links to the source of this idea. Is this based on one guy in a documentary, does anyone know?
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Old 11 January 2011, 04:33 PM
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What do suicide-attempt survivors think of suicide?

"Many people have speculated that if you could talk to someone who was in midair after jumping from a tall tower, you might find out that he no longer was so sure he wanted to die. Over the past thirty years I have seen four people who survived six-story suicide jumps.

"Two wished to survive as soon as they jumped, two said they did not, but one of the latter two who professed to be furious at having survived made no subsequent suicide attempt."

Similarly, of 515 people who had been prevented from jumping off the Golden Gate bridge, only 25 (5%) went on to kill themselves later. Of eight known survivors in 1975, one subsequently killed himself.
There is some interesting information here: http://www.a1b2c3.com/suilodge/facint1.htm
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Old 11 January 2011, 05:46 PM
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I'm quite sure I read it in an article about the documentary The Bridge (which, unsurprisingly, was about Golden Gate suicides.) There was at least one survivor interviewed for that. I'm having trouble remembering exact phrasing for Google, but here's one reference to it.

It's apparently very common for survivors of all types of attempted suicide to have that change of heart, but if I am recalling the same thing as you, it was a man who thought something like 'I can change everything in my life- apart from what I just did' the second he jumped off the bridge.

ETA: Found it. The man I was thinking of was Kevin Baldwin.
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Old 11 January 2011, 06:59 PM
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I saw The Bridge. IIRC, there are people who have been stopped from jumping only to do it at a later date, but most people who survive an attempt do realize they have other options.

The Bridge mentioned a suicide barrier but didn't really get into it. The article Pudding Crawl linked to tells more about it. It really is a horrible shame that they don't try anything.
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Old 11 February 2011, 12:19 PM
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I read somewhere (can't remember where, sorry) about an area where there was a bridge that was a popular suicide point, easy to jump off of and you were pretty much guaranteed not to survive. So the local authorities made the walls of the bridge higher to make it more difficult to jump off. The result - the suicide rate in the area dropped dramatically. Suggesting that the people who would otherwise have jumped off of the bridge largely chose not to commit suicide at all rather than simply finding another method.
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Old 12 February 2011, 02:05 AM
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I don't know if I should mention this personal anecdote, but I feel it's relevant: whenever my suicide attempts failed, it made me feel even more worthless. I thought "I have no control over anything in my life. I can't do anything. NFBSK, I can't even kill myself properly, for NFBSK's sake." It just sent me further into a hopeless, helpless state of depression.

Without talking any more about a very personal subject, I'd just like to say that I was apparently part of the minority that didn't experience a change of heart, even after several attempts and several methods. It took a 180 degree change of my entire life circumstances over several years to climb out of that depression.
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Old 12 February 2011, 02:37 AM
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Cervus, you're not alone in what happened with you. I honestly couldn't tell you the number of times I tried to take my own life from April 1994 until October 2008. Waking up after the attempt, and realizing I had failed, was a miserable feeling. It would plunge me farther into the depression I had been trying to get away from. Like you, it took a major life change for me to stop.

For some people a failed suicide attempt is a wake up call that they need help and they go and get it and never try again. For others it's a temporary stop on the way to the next attempt.

I don't think that people having a change of heart has anything, specifically, to do with the Golden Gate. I think it would be true for anyone who has a suicide attempt that fails, and then they realize that they really do want to live.

Quote:
I read somewhere (can't remember where, sorry) about an area where there was a bridge that was a popular suicide point, easy to jump off of and you were pretty much guaranteed not to survive. So the local authorities made the walls of the bridge higher to make it more difficult to jump off. The result - the suicide rate in the area dropped dramatically. Suggesting that the people who would otherwise have jumped off of the bridge largely chose not to commit suicide at all rather than simply finding another method.
I don't know about that. The bridge is the same height from end to end, so I don't think it would mater where you jump from. Unless somehow you're climbing up one of the cables or something. If you're just jumping off the side, I don't think a 10 foot wall is going to make you more "successful" than no wall.

And although I admit it's been over 10 years since I've been on the Golden Gate, I don't recall any kind of barriers, walls or nets being in place to prevent people from going over the edge.
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Old 12 February 2011, 03:26 AM
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The following is pure speculation on my part, but I could see changing one's mind in midst of a plunge from a high spot when the adrenalin really kicks in, the brain thinks "this is going to be really unpleasant", and the deeper primal instincts to avoid injury and death take over.

I also suspect the experience of jumping and surviving the attempt is probably horrible enough to make someone unlikely to be able to steel him or herself enough to try it again.
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Old 25 February 2011, 10:28 AM
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I read an article about one young man who jumped off the Golden Gate, immediately realized he'd made a terrible mistake, and somehow managed to position his body in such a way as to minimize the damage when he hit the water.

He still suffered lots of broken bones, but he did survive.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember exactly where I read the article, but it was probably in the SF Weekly newspaper.
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