Bridge Rail Foundation

Advocacy - Books and Documentaries

BOOKS

Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt

By Kevin Hines. Rowman and Littlefield. 2013

“At age 19, Hines nearly became one of the more than 2,000 people who have jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge since it was built in 1937. Fortunately, however, Hines became part of a much better statistic: he is the 26th person known to have survived the 220-foot fall. The first-time author also found a reason for living after years of suffering without help from bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Now a well-known mental-health advocate, Hines presents a vivid and moving memoir of how he descended into mental breakdown, fought to overcome his demons with the help of family and medical experts, and has made it his life’s work ‘to educate people all over this great country, and around the globe, to prevent suicide and understand mental illness.' Hines doesn’t go easy on the reader—he harrowingly describes his extreme paranoia, deep depressions, manic highs, hallucinations, and panic attacks. But he delivers a heartfelt message to other people who have undergone—or are undergoing—similar mental-health problems.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge

By John Bateson. University of California Press. 2012

Bateson’s book is the first ever written about Golden Gate Bridge suicides. Weaving drama, tragedy, and politics against the backdrop of a world-famous city, The Final Leap uncovers the reasons for the design decision that led to so many deaths, provides insight into the phenomenon of suicide, and examines arguments for and against a suicides barrier. He tells stories of those who have died, the few who have survived, and those who have been affected—from loving families to the Coast Guard, from the coroner to suicide prevention advocates.

“A masterful blend of research and case studies... It is hard not to be emotionally moved by this relatively slim volume, and it is hard not to simultaneously feel outrage and helplessness. The book is gripping, informative, maddening, and saddening, but it is something that anyone, professional or layperson, with compassion for psychological suffering will benefit from reading." (American Psychological Association)

The Girl behind the Door: A Father’s Quest to Understand His Daughter’s Suicide

By John Brooks. Scribner. 2016

Casey Brooks was 17 when she jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2008. She was only a few months away from graduating from a high school in Marin County, and scheduled to start college back East. Afterward, her father embarked on a journey to try and understand her death, starting with her abandonment at birth and the Brookses’ adoption of her from a Polish orphanage. His search led to a condition known as attachment disorder, an affliction common among children who have been abandoned, neglected, or abused. The Girl behind the Door integrates a tragic personal adoption story with information from experts to teach other families what the Brookses learned too late.

“A moving and riveting memoir about one family's love and tragedy. It contains extremely important information about the disordered sense of attachment that children of orphanages and institutionalization can experience. And it is beautifully researched, and expressed. I love this girl Casey, and her brave parents, and am very grateful that Mr. Brooks has written this book.” (Anne Lamott)

Paying the Toll: Local Power, Regional Politics, and the Golden Gate Bridge

By Louise Nelson Dyble. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2009

Constructing the Golden Gate Bridge posed political and financial challenges that were at least as difficult as those faced by the project's builders. To meet these challenges, northern California boosters created a new kind of agency: an autonomous, self-financing special district.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District developed into a powerful organization that shaped the politics and government of the Bay Area as much as the bridge shaped its physical development. From the moment of the bridge district's incorporation in 1928, its managers pursued their own agenda. They used all the resources at their disposal to preserve their control over the bridge, cultivating political allies, influencing regional policy, and developing an ambitious public relations program. Undaunted by charges of mismanagement and persistent efforts to turn the bridge (as well as its lucrative tolls) over to the state, the Bridge District expanded into mass transportation, taking on ferry and bus operations to ensure its survival to this day. Paying the Toll provides an inside view of the world of high-stakes development, cronyism, and bureaucratic power politics that have surrounded the Golden Gate Bridge since its inception.

DOCUMENTARY FILMS

The Bridge

Directed by Eric Steel. 2005

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure—a symbol of San Francisco, the West, freedom, and something spiritual that cannot be easily described. Steel and his crew spent an entire year filming the bridge, running cameras every daylight minute. They documented nearly two dozen suicides and numerous unrealized attempts. In addition, Steel captured 100 hours of frank, deeply personal, and often heart wrenching interviews with family members and friends of bridge jumpers, as well as with several attempters.

The Bridge is a visual and visceral journey into one of life’s gravest taboos, offering glimpses into the darkest, and possibly most impenetrable corners of the human mind. The release of the film and the powerful images of suicide from a national landmark sparked current efforts to end suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Joy of Life

Directed by Jenni Olson. 2005

This innovative film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It combines 16-millimeter landscape cinematography with a lyrical voice-over by artist-actor Harriet “Harry” Dodge to tell two San Francisco stories: the history of the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide landmark, and the story of an introspective lesbian searching for love.

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