Golden Gate Bridge Suicides - Witnesses and Responders

In many respects, witnessing a bridge jump is as traumatic as having a loved one jump, albeit in a different way. No one goes to the Golden Gate Bridge with the goal of seeing someone kill themselves, and the shock can be psychologically scaring. These witnesses may have to deal with feelings of helplessness or guilt as a suicide has developed beore their eyes.

For members of the Bridge Patrol and police officers, trying to talk down a suicidal person is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. Establishing an emotional connection with someone who has given up on life and is teetering on the edge of death is time-consuming and mentally exhausting. If, after an hour or two hours or—in one case—seven hours of conversation with someone who has climbed over the short railing, the person ends up letting go and falling, the impact on responders can be devastating.

It’s also stressful for members of the Coast Guard who are charged with retrieving the bodies. They joined the Guard to save lives, not to recover the remains of the dead. Station Golden Gate is one of the largest Coast Guard stations in the country, and there is a lot of turnover due in no small part to the job of picking up Golden Gate Bridge jumpers. It’s a thankless task.

All bridge workers from bridge patrol to painters and mechanics are all trained to spot the signs of a potential jumper and assist in crisis intervention.

Bob McGee worked as a painter at the Golden Gate Bridge for 12 years until his retirement in 2014. He has helped dozens of would be jumpers but has also witnessed people's last moments at the bridge. In 2023, he wrote a book called, A View Through the Fog, recounting his harrowing experiences.

https://marinmagazine.com/community/a-view-to-a-jump-working-as-a-painter-at-the-golden-gate-bridge/

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