“The Bridge”: San Francisco’s Horrible Secret a Call to All!

The clip above from the movie “The Bridge”

I am stunned! I am sitting here trying to wrap my arms around what I just witnessed. No film has had the effect that “The Bridge“, playing on the Independent Film Channel, has had on me in a very long time. It is a documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge. Unlike every documentary I have watched on our beloved landmark, this one focuses on the bridge’s notorious reputation as the #1 spot in the world for suicide.

In 2004 Eric Steel set up multiple cameras trained on the Golden Gate Bridge. What he caught was 20 separate suicide attempts; Steel spotlights 4 cases with interviews with family and friends of the victims. In two cases, he interviews the actual subjects of this documentary.

Although all of the cases were extremely compelling and shocking, the most important message came from the story about “Ken.”

This story is about a young man who suffers from bi-polar disorder. “Ken” describes his illness with passion and honesty. He describes his torn relationship with his father which is a central theme in “Ken’s” life. Interjected within this vignette, is “Ken’s” father’s description of “Ken’s” history and struggle with this illness, his own search for answers for his son, and a forlorn resolve that his son is one bad day away from tragedy.

The results of “Ken’s” struggles with family relationships and his illness was his attempted suicide from the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. Ken, in minute horrific detail, gave his account of his last minutes before his leap. Although he jumped from a height of 220 ft., traveling at 75+ mph, “Ken” survived the leap with multiple fractures of his lower back.

Since his suicide attempt,”Ken” has become a very spiritual person; he seems to have taken steps toward a better more normal life. “Ken’s” father sums it up best: “Ken” has resigned himself to the fact that he must stay within the boundaries, the safe brackets if you will, of his medications.” “Ken’s” illness is controllable.” According to “Ken’s” father, it (bio-polar disease) is unlike a serious case of cancer where a person has little control over their destiny; he believes “Ken” should feel lucky to have control through medication of his medical situation.

The reality of this problem is the role we all can and should play in helping our fellow human beings. If we could feel compassion, take action, and believe in being proactive in a “My brother’s keeper” way. . . maybe together we could help spare just one lost soul from a permanent horrible decision.

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