The Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the channel between the San Francisco and Marin peninsulas in California, is perhaps the last great American monument that remains accessible to those intent on ending their life. A (comparatively) short four-foot railing is all that separates pedestrians from a 220ft plunge to the water.

The vast majority of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge jump from the east side of the bridge, facing the San Francisco Bay, the minor islands of Alcatraz and Angel Island, the shores and hills of Berkeley and Oakland. Why they do not dive from the west side of the bridge, stretching towards the Farallon Islands and the Pacific Ocean, is a subject of some debate.

Psychology argues that the act of suicide is directed at persons or situations at whose hands the actor has suffered, that the act is vengeful. The history that drove this person to extinguish themselves would most likely lie to the east of the Golden Gate Bridge, and therefore the diver faces east, projecting their jump as an act of vengeance. Or, as the more humanist of the chemical mechanics offer, the actor recalls some person or event that now lies to their east, and wishes to transmit their action in that direction.

There are spiritualists, however, who contend that the suicide fears to confront the trackless horizon of the sea, its intimation of the infinite, in such proximity to their Empedoclean apotheosis.

The pragmatists, those hard observers of the world and its ways, note that the western side of the bridge is reserved for bicycle traffic, pedestrians are not allowed. They are quiet on whether or not qualities of emotional balance ought to be ascribed to bicycling.

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