Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Final Leap by John Bateson

309 pgs, 2012.

I will be talking about this book to anyone who will listen for the rest of my life. The messages it contains are that powerful. The sad thing is, when you tell people that you're reading a book about suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge most of them look at you in horror and ask why in the world you would read such a depressing book. My answer is simply "because suicide is an important topic and one that we as a society need to be talking about."

The Final Leap focuses primarily on suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge and includes information that would absolutely astound most people. Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is the world's number one suicide spot? And that although the installation of a suicide barrier has been studied numerous times, the committee that governs the bridge has been reluctant to install one and refuses to fund the barrier it did finally approve?

Sure, the personal stories about those who took their lives are sad. But the depressing part of the book is what very little has been done to stop the 2-3 successful suicides that take place there every month. It is my sincere hope that John Bateson and others do not give up trying to spread their message about not only the bridge, but suicide in general. I firmly believe that if we start a public conversation  that someday people won't view suicide as their only way out. I know I'll be trying to do my part to encourage open and frank discussion.


  1. Interesting! I just read a novel where one of the characters in the book is heading to California to jump off the bridge. But the Greyhound bus she's on crashes and derails her plot. I've been to the bridge several times and can't imagine having enough nerve to do that.

  2. That book also sounds interesting, Cate. Did the character devise a new plan or resolve herself to living? One of John Bateson's arguments for the barrier is that those thinking of suicide will not seek another course of action if the one they were determined to take is not available, ie. shooting ones self if they can't jump off the bridge. He says that research shows the majority of people will give up instead of choose something else. I guess the mindset of the Bridge District and some members of the public is the exact opposite, that a barrier won't stop people from choosing another route. I'm with you, I haven't seen the bridge in person but can't imagine jumping off of it--unless there's a bungee cord attached.