Golden Gate Bridge……or suicide bridge? By: Mindy Hardy
May 27th 1937, an orange vermillion structure or to others called “International Orange”,looms 222 feet or the equivalent of 19 stories over the Pacific Ocean. On the east side of the bridge is the beautiful, romantic, ambiance of the San Francisco skyline. Thousands of residents and tourists flock to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge and better yet to drive across it. The more athletic would prefer to walk or even compete in marathons which utilizes the Golden Gate Bridge as part of the route in the marathons.There is also a darker side to the bridge, the side that has brought over 1000 people to the top of the bridge, who have jumped or fallen into the unforgiving and restless waters below, ending their precious lives overlooking the skyline which they once loved.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the number one location where depressed and anxiety ridden people have committed suicide. The first suicide occurred only 10 weeks after the structure opened on May 27th 1937. It is reported that he left his job on a barge, strolled across the bridge, talked with a tourist, and then jumped over the side. The death toll was kept track of by the newspapers until the number drew close to 1000 to avoid fame seekers trying to be the 1000th person. At this point there is over 1300 victims of the Golden Gate. About every two weeks, one person jumps off of the bridge, usually from the east side overlooking the city. Cornelia Van Ireland who was 22 at the time became the first survivor and as of 2006 only 26 people have survived the jump and the the frigid waters below. Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum is likely the only person to have survived the first jump, and made a second jump from the bridge which she did not survive. The former owner of Victoria Secret sold his company and then eleven years later committed suicide by jumping off of the infamous bridge. There is even a report of a dog running up onto the bridge and jumping over the side. Why the people who have committed suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge did not jump from the much taller Oakland Bay Bridge can only be for the infamy of being one of the thousands of people to commit suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge. In the seventies there was a group called the “Suicide Club” who would hold lavish parties every time a suicide occurred as morbid as that is.
Although suicide is the main cause of death from the bridge there are also a handful of people who have fallen from the bridge by accident, mainly during the construction of the bridge where a piece of scaffolding fell through the safety net killing 10 workers. The safety net saved nineteen other people in the accident. The men that it saved are known as the “Halfway to Hell Club”.
As you can guess there are many paranormal events that happen on and around the Golden Gate Bridge today. Some of the reports of activity centers on the bridge and some underneath the bridge. One of the most famous accounts is of the the ship steamer the “SS Tennessee” who disappeared in 1853 into the dense fog of the Golden Gate Strait and being tossed against the rocks she quickly sank. “Tennessee Cove” is named in her honor. Credible witnesses have seen the phantom ship passing below the bridge, it’s deck unmanned, and then it fades into the fog minutes later. On one occasion the crew members on USS Kennison passed by what they saw as the “SS Tennessee”, they became amazed and then baffled when nothing registered on the destroyer’s radar although the phantom ship had left a wake.There have been other mishaps with ships. In 1901 the “SS City of Rio De Janiero” slammed into the rocks off Fort Point. 200 passengers rushed to the deck and fought to get one of the seats in the lifeboats. It became a riot and the lifeboats became overcrowded and sunk. There were not enough life jackets and fist fights ensued about who would get a life jacket. There were 129 souls taken that day within 18 minutes of being thrust into the frigid water. Screams could be heard and the sounds of dying which faded away into the silence of the coastal fog. There have been accounts from witnesses of screams trailing off into the fog. On foggy nights, with the wind howling through the cables of the bridge, some can hear the the ghastly cries of the men as they plummet to their death.
Another report that I have heard of is that pedestrians who was joggingacross the bridge started thinking evil thoughts which was very unusual for him not being depressed or stressed out. In his words:
“I kept feeling these evil feelings, with visions of me jumping, and how easy it would be to just jump. It was very bizarre, so bizarre, that I did not even want to run back over the bridge. I can’t explain those feelings. It was almost like there were evil spirits or something that were attacking me as I ran over the bridge, putting these thoughts in my mind”.
He then says,
“All I can say, I will never jog or walk over that bridge ever again. There is something not right about that bridge and the visions and feelings I got were terrifying”.
Is this what happened with all of the people who have made the final plunge into the great Pacific Ocean from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge? Did they walk across just with the intent of looking at the SFO skyline when an angry spirit or feeling attacked and overcame them and coerced them to plunge into the waters or were the 1300 plus victims troubled in their lives and felt like there was no other choice but to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and if so why did they choose they Golden Gate Bridge, was it notoriety, was it adrenalin, drugs? Who knows. Do you dare to walk or jog the 1.7 miles across the bridge now knowing the history and it’s skeletons? Those of us who love the history, the mystery, and the beauty of San Francisco and it’s bridge will not let stories deter us from enjoying it, right? I know I won’t.