Still in San Francisco. Am being driven back to my hotel by a colleague and given the scenic tour of the city. Alcatraz, TransAmerica Pyramid, Golden Gate bridge – the works.
As we drive over The Bridge, my guide turns to me asking if I know that the Golden Gate bridge is a prime spot for suicides. I squirm, hoping that this is merely another piece of trivia rather than an invitation.
“Oh yes,” he continues, “people jump off the bridge regularly, it’s a major problem.”
I nod, not really knowing what to say to this.
“The thing is that the real problem for anyone committing suicide is not the water or the current – which is quite strong – but the fall itself. Many people are dead before they even hit the water.”
I contemplate falling off the bridge and conclude that I probably would will myself into dying before I hit the water.
“The thing is,” he continues with an air of having done this all before, “that the two land masses linked by the bridge cause a wind funnel for all air current passing in from the Pacific or back out again. The wind speed here is quite high at times – it can average 60 miles per hour!”
(I wonder if this is the case. It does look rather windy right now)
“So when someone jumps off, the strong winds slam the bodies against the towers as it falls down and this causes multiple injuries which often leads to death. In fact, the US Coast Guard is often called out to scrape bodies off the Golden Gate Bridge.”
In other words, if you are about to join the US Coast Guard in California, you’ll be given a scraper and a pair of gloves for your first day’s work.
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