Today (October 10, 2008) the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors voted 14-1 to approve the installation of a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Read this San Francisco Chronicle item for further details and stay tuned for updates (or visit the Bridge Rail Foundation and sign up for their newsletter).
I'm very proud that my film, The Joy of Life, played a small part in educating the board and the general public and in keeping the spotlight on this issue and the need for a solution. There is still a long road ahead (especially in terms of the funding aspect). But it is a sweet victory to have the Board of Directors finally take leadership on this issue after 71 years.
There have been so many people working on this issue for so many years. In the course of researching my film I was fortunate to come to into contact with many of these community leaders and conscientious activists. I just want to list a few of their names here to recognize and celebrate this achievement: Eve Meyer (Executive Director, San Francisco Suicide Prevention), Kevin Hines (Golden Gate Bridge suicide survivor), Paul Muller (Bridge Rail Foundation organizer), Ken Holmes (Marin County Coroner); Tom Ammiano (San Francisco Supervisor and Bridge District Director), Bevan Dufty (San Francisco Supervisor and Bridge District Director), Janice Tagart (Executive Director, Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California), Mary Zablotny (mother of Golden Gate Bridge teen suicide Jonathan Zablotny and member of the Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier Task Force), Dr. Mel Blaustein (organizer of the Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Barrier Task Force), Eric Steel (director, The Bridge), Jerome Motto, Richard Seiden, Roger Grimes, SO MANY of the friends and family of Golden Gate Bridge suicides who have come forward over these many years with continual efforts to have a barrier erected, plus all of the journalists who have been drawing attention to the issue — especially over these past 5 years since Tad Friend's thoughtfully crafted New Yorker article so convincingly posited the story as a public safety issue and initiated the substantive journalism that followed (in contrast to the 65 previous years of primarily sensational, provocative and hopelessly apolitical press coverage).
And here are links to a few of the most significant media pieces of the past five years, starting with Tad Friend's New Yorker article (which was also the inspiration for Eric Steel's documentary, The Bridge).
Jumpers (Tad Friend's New Yorker piece from October 13, 2003)
The Urge to End It All (Scott Anderson's revelatory July 6, 2008 NY Times Magazine piece).
Lethal Beauty (the SF Chronicle's 7-Part series).
Suicide Watch (Andrew Blum's NY Times timeline of the cinematic critical mass drawing attention to the Bridge suicide issue in early 2005).
Power Over Life and Death (My SF Chronicle Op-Ed from January 14, 1995).
Of course, the other great debt of gratitude is owed to the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors and Staff.
And if you still feel like reading more check out:
The History of Suicide and The Golden Gate Bridge (script excerpt from The Joy of Life)