An IFC documentary produced on suicide sheds light on what it’s like for mentally ill people who are consumed with thoughts of ending their own lives. As singer Sinead O’Connor is once again making headline news for her comments regarding suicide, it appears that those who feel those threats should be ignored or taken lightly may be making a grave mistake. The film The Bridge is a controversial look at those who ended their lives by jumping off the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. One thing that comes across in the independent film, beyond the 23 people who were filmed jumping off the bridge in their final moments of life, is that those who jumped frequently spoke about suicide. Sinead O’Connor’s remarks in a recent Facebook post strongly resonate with some of the comments made by those who ultimately took their own lives in The Bridge.
Speaking in the video that you may see below, Sinead O’Connor stated, “My entire life is revolving around just not dying, and that’s not living.”
This statement is quite similar to some of those that were made by people who struggled with thoughts of suicide and depression as seen in The Bridge. It is a profound statement, one that shows how deeply she is struggling with thoughts of suicide and ending the pain she is experiencing. For someone’s entire life to revolve around not dying means they are thinking of suicide continually.
In The Bridge, filmmaker Eric Steel set up filming on the Golden Gate Bridge. Day by day, Steel and his team patiently waited and watched as tourists came, posed for photos, and then went by. Natives walked the bridge without a care in the world, but for some, those that Steel hoped to film, it was their final moments on earth. The Golden Gate Bridge has been referred to by some as a suicide magnet and the metaphorical symbolism of the bridge being where a person jumps from this life to the next is an irony that can’t be missed.
The documentary is controversial for several reasons, but most noticeably, Steel and his crew set up their cameras and filmed what is one of the hardest to watch yet most important documentaries of all time. Many people find the idea of filming a person’s suicide distasteful at best and exploitative at worst. The Bridge doesn’t stop with the jumpers, and it must be stated that their suicides are not filmed in some sort of sick Faces of Death-style exploit.
Afterward, the team then speaks to family and friends of those who were left behind. Hearing the stories of those who loved, cared for, and did everything in their power to save the jumpers is as tragic as watching the desperate take their final leap.
It is in the stories the family, friends, and even suicide attempt survivors share that rings true with Sinead O’Connor’s history. While Sinead has never hidden her struggles with depression, suicide, and mental illness from the public, it is clear that this has been a lifelong struggle for the singer. While Sinead sits in her New Jersey motel room, crying out to her family who has seemingly had enough of the pain and outbursts from the singer, it’s easy to understand that they are emotionally spent. At the same time, her cries should not be ignored.
As we see in The Bridge, those who go through with suicide don’t get the idea on a fleeting whim. It isn’t something where someone wakes up one day and says, “Gee, I think I need some attention. Maybe I’ll kill myself today.” Those who commit suicide deal with thoughts of depression and suicide on a long-term basis. Then, for whatever reason, one day, they’ve had enough.
The trouble is that no one can watch a suicidal person 24 hours a day. No one can love a suicidal person enough to make them want to live. No one can find a suicidal person a great job, wonderful family, and save them from themselves. Suicide is a choice, and there is only one person who is responsible for making that choice. No one can make a depressed or suicidal person want to live. He or she has to want that themselves.
In the video, Sinead O’Connor states that she will not kill herself because she loves her family, even though at this time she is not feeling loved. This is a dangerous place for Sinead to be. If it is true that the only thing keeping her feeling grounded is the love she has for those who can’t or won’t return it, as well as the relationship with her therapist, then she is in an extremely vulnerable place. The tragic truth, however, is that no one in her family can fix this for her. No one can send her flowers or a note on Facebook and make it all go away. Sinead has to find the strength and will within herself to live.
Life can be painful, sometimes excruciatingly so. It can be cruel, unfair, and downright horrible. It can be full of pain and abuse, and innocent people may be treated unfairly. But it is the only life that each of us is given, therefore it is worthy. No matter how painful, lonely, isolating, or devastating life is, we owe it to ourselves to carry on and live. We must live for ourselves, even when we can’t find others to live for.
Have you followed Sinead O’Connor’s career? Are you one of her fans? How do you respond to her cries for help and Facebook outbursts, pleas for help, and posts? Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and opinions on this subject below. You can watch The Bridge, see video interviews with suicide survivors, and find out more about help for those dealing with suicidal thoughts below.
Please be forewarned: The Bridge is a haunting, gripping movie that is chilling to watch. It is likely to leave you forever changed, and it’s not something you can easily get out of your mind. You can see the trailer below, followed by the full video as it is on YouTube. Again, be warned and use your best discretion before watching The Bridge.
Watch an interview with Kevin Berthia, who on March 11, 2005, climbed over the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide but was rescued after a caring highway patrol officer talked to him for over an hour. Ten years later, Kevin Berthia returned to the bridge and discussed his battle with depression and suicide.
Hear the story of a man who is the true 1 percent below. Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.
Director Eric Steel talks about making the controversial film The Bridge.
Please read these news articles regarding suicide.
If you have thoughts of suicide or suspect someone close to you is considering suicide, get help now. The most effective source of immediate help is a psychological evaluation where you or the person is monitored and prevented from committing self-harm. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit online. You may find someone to talk with or even chat online. Those who are deaf may access the National Suicide Hotline’s chat room here.
[Featured Image by Robert Cicchetti/Shutterstock]