The Bridge of Death


"She returned to the bridge on several other occasions. And we started to recognize her," Steel said. "She had a routine of adjusting her hat and putting on her makeup before she climbed over. And as soon as we recognized her, we called the authorities and they went out, and they took her off the bridge."

A Story of Surviving Suicide

Among those who have campaigned for a suicide barrier is Kevin Hines. He is one of the few people to have survived a suicide attempt from the bridge -- an attempt he regretted as soon as he jumped.

Hines, 25, plays a large part in the documentary. Hines is one of the few people to have jumped from the bridge and lived. He did so in the year 2000, while suffering from bipolar disorder. It is a period that his father, Pat Hines, remembered vividly.

"One day Kevin would be king of the world, the next day, Kevin would be sobbing in his room," Pat said.

On a weekend in September 2000, he appeared to be behaving more normally; but unknown to his father, he'd a suicide letter, bought some candy for a last meal, and rode a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Like many suicidal people, Hines had a scenario in his mind to give himself a way out: that if someone noticed his despair, he would stop.

"So I'm crying softly to myself, waiting, you know, for that, for that angel to come down and tap me on the shoulder and say, 'hey, are you OK'?" Kevin said. "And that in itself is just a grandiose kind of a psychotic nature of suicidal thought. That's not how the world works. People don't have [telepathy], at least not the ones I knew on that bus."

On the bridge, Hines remembered a tourist asking him to take her picture but failing to notice his tears.

"And she walked away and I took a couple steps back and I ran and I threw myself over the rail. And at that moment, at the second of freefall, at the second, at the millisecond, 'Oh, my God, I don't want to die. What did I just do?'" Hines said.

In a last attempt to live, Hines realized that he had to change positions to avoid hitting the water head first. He landed feet first instead, in a sitting position.

Most people would have been killed even in the position that Hines assumed. Two of his vertebrae were shattered on impact. He couldn't move his legs. But he used his arms to try to swim toward the light he could see above him on the surface of the water. And as he hoped for rescue, something helped him stay afloat.

In less than a half hour, the Coast Guard picked up Hines from the water and took him to a hospital, where workers notified his father.

Hines has since received treatment for his bipolar disorder; and because of their experience, both Hines and his father are known in the Bay Area for their work in suicide prevention.

They said they are grateful for Steel's documentary, despite the controversy over his methods of taping suicides over the course of a year and making them a part of his film.

They believes there will be a benefit to the debate in prodding authorities to take some kind of action to finally construct a suicide barrier on the bridge.

"This is not something that has started just because of Eric Steel's movie," Pat Hines said. "There have been numerous attempts to convince the Bridge Directorate to raise the rail, in essence repair the fault that occurred at the construction of the bridge."

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