The morning I jumped, I had been in a deep depression for days. This was a result of bipolar disorder, for which I was taking a number of meds. My father sensed something was wrong, but I brushed him off. I left the house, grabbed a last meal of Skittles and Starbursts and took Muni to the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was a mess on the Bridge, crying and disoriented. No one stopped to ask what was wrong. Finally, a tourist with a heavy European accent stopped me, she wanted her picture taken. I agreed. Five snapshots later, I was still crying and she was done and gone. I knew no one cared. I took a step back and hurled myself over the short rail.
Once airborne, I had four seconds left. I knew immediately I did not want to die. Thoughts racing, I tried to angle my body to survive. I guessed right. I hit the water at 75 miles per hour, and did not lose consciousness. I tried to swim to the surface, but my legs were numb and useless. My arms were enough to get me to the surface, but I could not stay afloat. Suddenly, I felt a large sea animal brush against me. Great, I thought, I jump off the Bridge and now a shark will eat me. Witnesses later told me it was a sea lion, nudging me to the surface.
The Coast Guard picked me out of the water, checked me out, and shipped me off to Marin General Hospital. I had multiple injuries and it was not clear that I would survive the next 24 hours.
Obviously, I survived, and I thank God.
My hospital stay was weeks long, and one regular visitor was a Franciscan monk. We talked and he suggested that I was spared for a reason, perhaps to tell my story, maybe to help put an end to almost 70 years of preventable deaths off the Bridge. I am working now to do that, through several groups pushing for a suicide barrier on the Bridge. I also work in the schools, telling my story, counseling at-risk youth, and organizing special outreach efforts.
But I need your help too. We have come a long way in the last several years, but there is a long way to go. Please consider what you can do to end the on-going Golden Gate Bridge tragedies—your efforts can save lives and ensure that the needless pain and grief visited upon so many families will stop.