Goodbye, cruel world.

A creepy but fascinating story in the New Yorker about the magnetic lure of the Golden Gate bridge to the suicidal. I’ve always heard the Golden Gate outranks similar bridges in this area by a huge margin — someone goes over at a rate of one every two weeks — but it’s actually the world’s leading suicide attraction. A few, but not many, survive the plunge:

Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable — except for having just jumped.”

Posted at 3:09 pm in Uncategorized |

6 responses to “Goodbye, cruel world.”

  1. James Burns said on October 6, 2003 at 4:30 pm

    “…afraid that if they stood on the chord…”


    “As he crossed the chord in flight…”

    Is this some strange (allusional) use of the word chord, or do they mean cable or cord?

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  2. Nance said on October 6, 2003 at 4:41 pm

    The “chord” refers to a specific part of the bridge structure just outside the walkway. Unlikely that the New Yorker, with that famous fact-checking department, would get that one wrong.

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  3. Andrea said on October 7, 2003 at 8:18 am

    Although I don’t know if there has been an article written about it (idea?), many of our National Parks have that same magnetic lure. If you read the daily incident report on a regular basis (, there are an alarming number of suicides in national parks. And not just the big ones – keep an eye on reports from Natchez Trace Parkway; they seem to have more than their share.

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  4. Sister Pam said on October 7, 2003 at 10:11 am

    One of my earliest recollections from childhood is learning that the mother of someone in my school took a leap off the Eads Bridge in St. Louis. The family were German DPs after WWII and I guess she couldn’t adjust. I was never comfortable being driven over that bridge and closed my eyes every time. And the family was Catholic to boot. The parish had a lot of trouble with that one in the 1950s.

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  5. danno said on October 7, 2003 at 2:13 pm

    ‘rocks the llama’s ass’!!! Never heard that one used, but knew exactly what it meant! (Kevin does rock the llama’s ass!!) Can I borrow that one??!!

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  6. Sailor Dave said on December 4, 2003 at 11:00 pm

    Oh Golden City, With Your Golden Gate

    You Have Taken Many, To That Golden Fate

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