The Bridge of Death


"I think I'm the Golden Gate Bridge's worst nightmare," Steel said. "When you have actual footage, when people are forced to confront it as a witness, it changes the picture completely. If there were a 2-mile stretch of road anywhere in this country, and two dozen people died at that stretch of road year after year after year after year, you know, the people responsible for that stretch of road would feel compelled to take drastic action to stop 24 people from dying the next year."

Last month, the Bridge Authority did award a contract to an engineering team for a comprehensive study and preliminary design of a suicide barrier, and just this week, studies began that could potentially settle the issue.

"We're going to do the wind tunnel testing that's necessary to determine, can you put a higher fence," said Kupersmith. "If a barrier is built here, it will deter people. I can promise you that. Because I won't build one unless it's going to deter people from jumping."

So -- for reasons that many believe include the publicity over Eric Steel's film -- some renewed steps have been taken on a painful and long-standing issue. Steel has said he wanted to make a film about the human spirit in crisis in a country where during some years there have been nearly twice as many suicides as homicides.

If there is a spike in suicides, Steel said remaining silent about the issue would not help.

"The answer is not to not show the film," Steel said. "I think the film gives you an insight into mental illness and suicide that no one's ever offered before."

"The answer is to have a discussion about suicide and mental illness in a way that produces different results," he said. "And I hope that I have, in some way, contributed to changing the dialogue."

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