More than a thousand people have taken the plunge from America's number-one departure site. Obvious reasons for the bridge's popularity are that it is easy and effective, but there must be something more, for many suicides travel over the equally effective and accessible San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to jump off the Golden Gate. Perhaps jumping from a popular site is a way of committing a public act. ... It may even make it seem like one is not dying alone.

This is where I get off
The last words of Harold W., the first person to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. W. leapt to his death in August 1937, a mere three months after the bridge opened.

I am sorry...I want to keep dad company
The note left by twenty-four-year-old Charles G., Jr., whose father had jumped from the bridge four days earlier.

Do not notify my mother. She has a heart condition.
From Steven H., the 500th person to jump from the bridge. There was no need to tell his mother, for she saw it on the evening news. The 500th suicide had been greatly anticipated. Fourteen people vied to have the dubious honor, with one even stenciling the number 500 on his T-shirt.

"For people depressed and impulsive, the Golden Gate Bridge is like having a loaded gun in the house."
---Psychologist Richard Seiden

Indeed, the only thing separating the public from plunging to death is a four-foot railing. While there are constant calls to install barriers, they have been rejected due to cost and aesthetics. It's a shame, since former suicide magnets, such as the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower, have installed barriers and practically eliminated suicides.

Instead, the bridge is closely watched. Police regularly patrol the area and employees watch through TV monitors looking for potential jumpers---men in suits are the most obvious. They've also installed telephones directly to suicide counselors, though they are rarely used.

Many jumpers do want to be dissuaded from suicide. In fact, one readily surrendered after a police officer pulled his gun and said, "Come down or I'll shoot." Unfortunately, in another case, an officer shot a suicidal man at the railing after he looked like he was drawing a gun.

Those who aren't deterred fall 223 feet, about 12 stories, and hit the water at 80 mph. Only about twenty people have survived. Most drown or die of internal injuries.

Loved ones: My nerves are shot. Please forgive me. Chris
A note from Chris C., a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. He turned up alive a year later selling Bibles in Houston. It was first of many fake suicides from the bridge.

A study of bridge jumpers found the following:

* Jumping increases on full moons and holidays

* Jumping is a local phenomenon. Only 5 percent come from outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

* Jumpers are getting younger. Once the average was over fifty; now it's less than thirty.

* The most famous jumper: Roy Raymond, founder of Victoria's Secret clothing chain.

* The most misguided: the man who jumped because he didn't get into Columbia Law School---only Stanford.

Taken directly from "Or Not to Be: A Collection of Suicide Notes" by Mark Etkind

I thought, well I thought you'd find my little tidbit interesting. I think this also means I won't be moving to the Bay Area any time soon either.

Update: 2002.04.08. Ouroboros says re Golden Gate Bridge: my understanding is, that recently, they always jump off the east side, facing land, never the west side looking out to sea.