Sunday, July 06, 2008

Don't Jump!!!

I enjoyed Roy's Sunday Morning Coffee Links, especially the pictures of the giraffes.

I was away for part of the holiday weekend, rediscovering the value of R & R (good stuff). I got to the New York Times Magazine a little late, but there was a terrific article about impulsive suicides. The article, The Urge to End It, by Scott Anderson, made the point that the most lethal of suicide methods-- firearms and jumping from high places among them-- are often the methods used by people who attempt suicide on impulse and that blocking access to these means often prevents people from dying. He points to the fact that 90% (at least) of those who've been stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge don't end up dying of suicide, that suicide rails lower the rates of completed suicide, that the suicide rate in Britain dropped with the elimination of coal gas:

For generations, the people of Britain heated their homes and fueled their stoves with coal gas. While plentiful and cheap, coal-derived gas could also be deadly; in its unburned form, it released very high levels of carbon monoxide, and an open valve or a leak in a closed space could induce asphyxiation in a matter of minutes. This extreme toxicity also made it a preferred method of suicide. “Sticking one’s head in the oven” became so common in Britain that by the late 1950s it accounted for some 2,500 suicides a year, almost half the nation’s total.

Those numbers began dropping over the next decade as the British government embarked on a program to phase out coal gas in favor of the much cleaner natural gas. By the early 1970s, the amount of carbon monoxide running through domestic gas lines had been reduced to nearly zero. During those same years, Britain’s national suicide rate dropped by nearly a third, and it has remained close to that reduced level ever since.

It's a good article, well worth the read.

Someone remind me that I want to talk about Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love.


pemdas said...

I live just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. You never hear about bridge suicides anymore. A number of years back there was almost a countdown mentality when the number of GG Bridge suicides was approaching 2,000. Then the media stopped reporting the number of deaths.

A couple of years ago I went to see the documentary "The Bridge". A camera was trained on the bridge 24/7 for one year. I was sitting in a packed movie theater. Opening scene: typical San Francisco fog, kids playing soccer, people playing with their dogs. Then a closer shot of the bridge and then a fairly close-up shot. You see a figure matter-of-factly scale the railing and jump without hesitation, The audience knew what we were getting into but I don't think we really had a clue. There were gasps, people stopped breathing, no one was fidgetting in their seats. When the film was over, i turned to my friend and said "I may be suicidal again at some point but there is no way will ever jump off that bridge."

About 9 months, I posted the following on my blog (about seeing what I thought was a potential jumper):

Dragonfly said...

We got taught all about those in 2nd year med by a psychologist. I found it quite amazing that so many people were still alive after follow up. Hopefully their quality of life had improved as well.

Please do talk about that book! I have been meaning to read it for months now.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear about Eat, Pray, Love. It was recommended to me by a friend and fellow psychiatrist; but I can't bring myself to purchase it given the negative reviews on that "the author is self-absorbed and irritating, and her 'insights' into the people she meets and the places she goes are shallow and annoying". The idea of a trip of self-discovery is intriguing and I am definitely in favor of meditation practices. I will eagerly await the discussion.

Anonymous said...

The "High Five" is a multi-level highway interchange in Dallas that has become the site of a number of suicides since its completion a few years ago. It has a low concrete wall and the Dept. of Transportation has resisted raising its height or adding bars to deter jumpers because of "aesthetic" principles. That's the kind of place Dallas is. Wish they would read your post. I hadn't thought about the impulsive aspect of jumpers, but now I recall some of the High Five jumpers left their cars parked at the top of the interchange.

I look forward to your review of "Eat Pray Love". Like drdymphna, I have been put off by the negative comments on

Anonymous said...

g'wan, read the book. you got thru in treatment which, btw is coming out on dvd, don't know about blu ray and special behind the scenes must have features. if a person really wants to jump, pay the subway fare. happens every day.

Anonymous said...

Dear Roy,

I hope that you did not rush to update your Iphone today because that might have left you feeling like jumping off a bridge. If you did, go talk to Dinah, she will feed you chocolate and wine and pasta and the feeling will pass.

Anonymous said...

Too bad it doesn't fix severe and endless depression which as far as I'm concerned is a worse fate.

For the record regarding my less than stellar attitude I am moderately better due to the unrelenting passage of time, voluntary medication and therapy did jack. Only reason offing myself wasnt an option is I couldn't do it to my family, and I never was interested in being one of those girls who slits her wrists or ODs on benzos and wakes up on her way to the psych ward. I hadn't lost all of my pride.

Quite frankely, even though I derive some enjoyment and satisfaction out of life, I'd still prefer to have not been born. Been that way as long as I can remember. Dysthymia [perhaps but it doesn't change the fact Ive never seen any glimpse of the possibility that I---personally---could be happy and content enough with life for it to seem worth it.

Wow, so much for moderatley better. I'm aware i sure don't sound like it. Maybe a rain dance will fix everything. Pff, this is probably why therapy didn't work, i feel like a shmuck for whining about myself here. Depending on people never works, and I can't even contemplate depending on someone who I'm paying for the privilege. No offense you need to make a living and it's a respectable way to do it, just the way things are. Maybe socialized medicine would make it seem less pay per view. end tangent.