[ Horn Blowing ]
[ No Audible Dialogue ]
[ Chattering ]
[ Loud Splash ]
[ Man ] It was sort of a weird day. The wind was lightish.
I was just kiting there.
I cut over to the south tower and some stuff fell, so I cut back the other way... and I just saw a mass falling toward my kite.
I thought it was the same thing.
And so I turned the kite back.
Then I looked over, and before they hit...
I realized it was a person that had jumped.
[ Chris ] So then I cut over just to see... or maybe, possibly help.
The current just sucked them under.
I stayed in the tide because I knew the coast guard would come.
That's when it became more of a surreal experience to me... because I've seen that coast guard boat a million times.
They've helped us out and rescued us when we had problems, but they were all wearing the white hazmat suits, and that's when I realized that there was definitely a person in.
[ Eric ] I never knew the real scale of the problem.
I don't know. The whole thing is crazy to me.
I just don't even understand it, really.
[ Chris ] When I was riding back after that time, I was thinking about how... that person was at the lowest of the low of their life, obviously, and the whole day all I could think about--
"It's gonna be a good day to go out and kite," and my passions for it, and here at the same time, you know, I'm reaching, you know, for what I love to do, and this person's ending their life.
So that was unreal.
[ Eric ] Yeah, exactly. Kiting is, to me, a real celebration of life.
It's exhilarating. It's thrilling.
It's just awesome.
So it's a real juxtaposition of celebration of life... and the ending of life.
[ Man ] * It's neither heaven nor space *
* It's just high
* And the ring around the moon *
* Looks like light *
[ Woman ] It was one of those epic days in San Francisco, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was crystal clear. The bay was calm.
There were tourists walking across the bridge.
And usually on those types of days...
I always soak in the beauty of the bay... and look over to Alcatraz.
And on that particular day I looked over--
I was probably a little bit more than mid-span... when I saw... this gentleman on the railings.
And at first glance I thought, "Wow, this guy looks like he's gonna bungee jump."
Because of the way that he was standing on the railing.
And then common sense kicked in and said, "You can't"--
My thoughts were, you couldn't jump off the bridge-- bungee jump off the bridge.
And then he just kind of held his arms out... and disappeared.
And I wasn't sure if I was imagining this, and so I drove for a few seconds, then looked in my rearview mirror.
My heart rate went up... and I almost felt like I wanted to start crying, because I thought to myself, "Wow, I might be one of the last people that have ever seen this person alive."
When I went into the tower and I talked to the highway patrolman, I asked him blatantly, "Is this a rare occurrence, or does this happen often?"
And he looked at me and kinda smiled and just said, "It happens all the time."
[ Woman ] It's hard to define Gene as a person.
He was... um, just not of this world, I think, is really the truth of it.
Not of this world... as we know it.
His mother was a woman who said, "Oh, I never want children."
And then, uh, a few years later... she found herself pregnant... and decided, um, to have the child... rather than leave the country for an alternative, and she was looking forward to it.
And so came my-- my friend Gene, who was always referred to as my little brother, Thump.
He was born an old man.
Um, and all their lives... it was just the two of them, pretty much.
Uh, people came and went in their lives... in relationships of various sorts, but it was mostly just always... the two of them, dependent on each other for... that stability that, um, one thinks of as tomorrow is coming, and we will do this, and we will do that.
[ Woman ] Growing up with Lisa in Marin, she was just like completely normal until she was, like, 14.
[ Woman #2 ] Fourteen. Mm-hmm.
I'm four years older. I moved away.
I lived in Alaska, and my mom would write me and say, "Hey, Lisa's, um, acting strange and doing these things."
And I kept telling her it was... typical teenage stuff.
I came back 10 months later... and there was a big change.
Our upbringing, uh, was-- w-w-was fabulous, uh, I would say, until my father suddenly died when I was 14.
That was a shock. Um--
That threw all three of us.
But it didn't make Jeff and I mentally ill.
But Lisa had a different personality.
She wasn't as outgoing as my brother or I, and she was just--
She was more angelic.
[ Rachel ] We went through all the counselors... and finally got her to go to a psychiatrist, and he said that Lisa is a paranoid schizophrenic... and she will never recover.
That was a terrible thing to tell a mother.
He says, "You have to take her right now to the crisis center at Marin General."
She immediately, when we got there, got on the pay phone... and started calling her friends and telling them how terrible I was... to bring her to this place.
Well, they brought her into the crisis unit, and do you know, for all the bad things she did when she was home, she straightened up, acted as if she was perfectly normal, and they discharged her.
We went through that several times.
She had her own style.
She liked to wear headbands. She liked to wear black.
Black leather headbands with rhinestones.
And matching gloves with no fingers.
And she always wore bicycle gloves.
No. Harley rider gloves.
You know? Leather. Leather. Leather.
Leather gloves, yes. She was the leather queen.
[ Man ] I met Gene at a comic book convention in Oakland.
We just hit it off immediately.
By looking at us, you wouldn't think we would become such tight friends, but we did, you know.
He looked like the cool rocker type, you know.
Long hair, you know.
Everything about him is, you know, just cool, and the ladies like it.
And I was Mr. Hip-hop, you know-- other side of the spectrum and stuff.
Everything was black.
His clothes were black. His hair was black.
Uh, the curtains were black.
The walls were black.
The sheets were black.
Um, he just wanted--
It's as though he wanted no-- no contrasts.
He mostly just wanted to be in his room with his computer.
[ Dave ] Me and Gene had long talks about love... and where he's trying to find it.
And I told him, he's not gonna find it on the Internet.
A lot of times he didn't want to hear it. He just wanted what he saw.
He would send me pictures of these girls, and I'm like, "Dude, what are you doing?" You know? [ Laughs ]
That's not-- That ain't it, you know?
I'm like, take time, get to know this person. You know?
You don't know this person from nothin'.
Just because you read a bio about this person... and this person wants to turn around and have sex with you, that's not love, you know.
[ Lyle ] I noticed early on... that Lisa was very interested in-- in romance.
Um, and I saw her go through some very painful rejections.
[ Rachel ] She met a guy-- This was just before Christmas.
She took off with him on a bus.
She was gone for a week. We had no idea where she was.
She was off her medication.
And I was wrapping gifts.
All of the sudden, I looked up and there was Lisa outside, just really in a bad state.
[ Dog Barking ] She thought our dogs were devils.
She broke a clock because she thought it was a time bomb.
I had to have the police come out.
But before they would admit her, she had to have a court order to get in... because she'd been in and out of the crisis so many times.
[ Tara ] Being a schizophrenic is like watching TV... and having 44 channels on at the same time.
And that's her environment, 24/7. You know?
There's just, like, little noises here, or something there.
I'm trying to talk here, but that's distracting me, that's distracting me, and it's all equal.
That would freak anybody out.
[ Thunder Rumbling ]
[ Rachel ] She graduated from house to house... to a home where there was constant care, and finally to independent living... for about 15 years.
That place was great. She had her own room.
She had a very nice situation there. She liked it there.
But one of her roommates there-- Right? Jumped off the bridge too.
No, this was a friend. A friend of hers. A friend.
Two years ago? Oh, no, it's longer than that.
Longer than that? Much longer.
As far as pills and other forms of suicide, I haven't personally experienced that in my houses.
It's like the last three people, I think, who I was kind of close to in Buckelew... were all bridge jumpers.
[ Tara ] After she settled in in Marin, she was pretty stable.
Then all of the sudden this past year... she just felt she needed more support for some reason.
Do you think that was the medication change?
Um, no, I think it was because she was ill.
Oh, 'cause she wasn't feeling good.
[ Rachel ] Her teeth were just so rotted.
We felt it was from medication and from drinking a lot of Coke.
So she had to have all her teeth removed.
So she looked kinda funny walking around with no teeth.
That was-- That was a problem too.
[ Rachel ] Just from then on, downhill.
[ Horn Blowing ]
[ People Chattering ] [ Woman ] Let's stay together.
The Golden Gate Bridge was designed by Joseph Strauss.
It opened in 1937.
Each year, about nine million tourists--
[ Woman ] Well, we went for Easter vacation... to take all the kids to San Francisco.
Before going to the Alcatraz--
Before going to the Golden Bridge, we went to Alcatraz... and we went to, um, the Pier 39.
And from there we took a walk to the Golden Gate.
[ Rachel ] We had a big dinner on--
[ Tara ] The week before Easter. The week before. Palm Sunday.
So I said, "Lisa, I'm not going to fix a big dinner on Easter Sunday."
The kids weren't going to be around.
Except that was a tradition in our family, to get together.
But-- Well, she didn't seem to mind. She never objected.
[ Sighs ] So I called her about 1:00 on--
She didn't feel good that week. She still didn't go to work.
So I said, "I guess I could come down, but I don't know what I can do."
[ Christina ] Lisa was so quiet... and oftentimes had this--
I don't know how you'd say-- A poker face, or--
She kept her feelings to herself.
She wasn't one to, you know, get all emotional, which surprised me.
'Cause I look back now at Muir Woods.
We were walking down the little trail... and there was this huge redwood tree... lying in the middle of the path, and she looked at it and she goes, "Wow! Look at that!"
Sounds like no big deal, but for Lisa that was like-- that was different.
And then she came home-- [ Clears Throat ]
I guess she was hungry, and she asked a girl there, "Did you fix dinner?"
And they said, "No."
So then they said she was very quiet.
She got in the freezer, took something out and fixed it herself.
And after she had eaten-- they said she was very quiet when she was eating-- she got up and took her purse and her jacket... and off she went.
And that's the last they saw her.
[ Mrs. Figueroa ] We were taking pictures of each other.
I was taking pictures to them, and Paolo was taking pictures to us.
And they were playing.
Uh-- And I got scared.
He was holding the baby, and we were walking, and, uh--
Then we saw that lady.
The lady just put the-- The bag on the ground.
[ Boy ] And she jumped off.
[ Mrs. Figueroa ] And I said, "She jumped! She jumped!"
And I was like-- [ Boy ] And she told my brother to go call the cops.
[ Mrs. Figueroa ] Paolo went running down to get some help... because I wanted somebody to help her... because for us, it was the first time to see somebody jump off the bridge.
[ Speaks Spanish ]
And before she jump, she look at me and Vidal and he was laughing.
She laughed, like a smile, like, "You don't know what I'm gonna do, but"--
She smile and jump and, uh--
Like, she-- she-- sh-she was acting like-- like a gorilla or something.
[ Mrs. Figueroa ] No, that's not-- [ Laughs ]
He likes to make things up.
[ Lyle ] I'm not 100% convinced that she did commit suicide.
Um, I don't know if someone had accompanied her to the Golden Gate Bridge... and had encouraged her to jump.
I don't know if someone had been pressuring her to go to the Golden Gate Bridge and jump.
And certainly it is a highly risky, rather glorious, uh, way... to draw attention to oneself.
[ Tara ] My brother's very religious.
He doesn't believe she committed suicide.
He thinks it's something else.
I don't know what he thinks. I didn't know that.
Well, he won't call it that because... it's a sin to commit suicide in his mind, and that's not what she did.
She fell or something. I don't know what he--
He's coming up with different justifications, so--
He doesn't talk to me like that, so--
[ Tara ] Thing is, if you go stand on that bridge and look down, the amount of guts that you have to have to stick anything over that rail--
It must have been incredible, the pressure on her.
It had to be worse than the thought of doing that.
And I've always thought of myself as a stronger person than her, and there's no way I would have the guts to do that, even with a parachute or something.
And for her to just do it and just like that, it was like--
We still can't-- I still can't believe it.
My family, my husband, my kids, we're like, "How did she even think about doing that?"
It was a relief. A relief for her.
Because she knew that she probably never would be physically well again, and she knew she had the mental illness.
And she was just at the end of her rope.
There were too many things. So--
Yeah, I agree with that-- She's in a better place. That's all I can say.
You have to look at it that way. You know?
** [ Piano: Mid-tempo Ballad ]
[ Man ] * In this darkest hour
* A brave face will break soon *
* The world waits for you *
** [ Continues ] [ Man ] I'd try and relive, you know, when doing something-- say, "This is something Philip likes," or "My son would like this."
He's still there with me, you know, if I go somewhere, a ball game or somethin'.
And, um, I think I'm getting more of an understanding... of what he went through toward the end.
'Cause you feel the same way.
It's just, you know, what makes any of us go over that line?
[ Stammers ] It's just--
Some days you-- you think like that yourself.
It's just, he thought about it every day.
[ Mary ] What makes a person... be able to do that?
I don't know. I don't have the answer to that.
[ Wally ] Well, it's-- It's like any pain.
When it becomes unbearable, you'll do anything.
It's like physical cancer. [ Mary ] Yeah, I can't-- Yeah.
If you have cancer of the-- of the mind, you know, nobody knows what you're going through.
[ Foghorn Blowing ]
[ Mary ] I mean, it was like our hands being tied.
No matter how much we talked to him--
I mean, he was in and out of the hospital.
The doctors talked to him and... it was like nothing would change his mind.
[ Mary ] In fact, I think the medicines made him worse.
[ Wally ] We thought, you know, if we can get him through his episodes--
But that's the crazy thing.
As soon as you get somebody strong enough, that's when they have the courage.
So, do you make 'em well or do you keep 'em sick?
[ Wally ] He tried it a few times, but his second attempt, he said, "My third attempt is not gonna fail. I'll make sure of it."
He researched it and found the Golden Gate Bridge on the Internet.
He said to him it was the best way.
It was planned out for months, and then the final two weeks he was making his last preparations.
He said whether some people believe suicide is a sin or not--
He asked that a lot.
I said, "It's something man made up."
Um, at least he thanked me for telling him the truth.
Just-- You know, I don't know.
You know, I don't think God's gonna hold you responsible... for something you can't handle.
And he said, "Well, whether I come back or not, you know, if I do, I'll see you again, Dad.
If not, just know that I'm at peace."
What I'm trying to say is, I didn't want him to feel... like he was in a cage inside of himself.
Some people say their body's a temple.
He thought his body was a prison.
In his mind he knew he was loved.
He knew he had everything, could do anything, and yet... he felt trapped.
That was the only way he could get free.
[ Truck Blowing Horn ]
[ Man ] Gene was very overly dramatic.
[ Woman ] Even the simplest things... were very long and drawn out and very hard.
He would always say things like, "Kill me now."
You would be talking about something... and ask him, "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Oh, I don't care. Just kill me."
"Okay, well, where do you want to go look for a job today?"
"I don't care. It's not gonna matter. Just kill me."
"Might be easier if you'd just kill me."
You didn't take him serious if he said certain things, because he would almost say it in a joking manner.
He wouldn't say it with this intensity of, you know, like, "I'm gonna do it this time!"
He wasn't that person. He would make light of it.
"Man, I'm gonna commit suicide. I'm gonna just shoot myself.
I'm gonna do it with a bow and arrow."
And when he would say this stuff, we were just like, "Yeah, whatever."
And years and years and years would go by-- He's crying wolf.
But he was still fun to be around. [ Laughing ]
It sounds-- When I hear myself saying it, it sounds like he wasn't fun.
He was fun to be around, fun to go out with, go to clubs with and stuff.
He would just get in those little funks, and pretty soon it was... just like I didn't even--
I didn't even pay it any attention.
It was just something he said all the time, in every conversation.
[ Tour Guide ] We ask everyone on board to take your seats... as we go under the bridge.
The swells and tides are very unpredictable.
The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long.
The towers are 746 feet tall.
The roadway is suspended 220 feet above the water at center span.
[ Tour Guide ] The Golden Gate Bridge-- Thanks so much. is the most photographed man-made structure in North America... and it is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
[ Wally ] We had gone to Montana, Glacier National Park, the year before.
Philip had a blast there.
We told him if he got out of the army in time, which he did, that we were going back there.
They had those forest fires, and so we couldn't get in.
I had been to San Francisco before, and I said, "You'll love it there."
And the bridge fascinated him.
For some reason, yeah, while we were driving across the bridge, he just kept looking around.
I just thought it was kind of odd, you know, that he would be--
And he wanted to get out.
He says, "Can we walk along the bridge?"
I says, "I guess there are people who can walk along the bridge."
[ Wally ] We were on a tour bus. [ Mary ] Yeah.
I says, "But we can't get out now."
Um, he just, like, kept looking out the window... like he wanted to get out and just look around.
He thought it was just so beautiful.
Well, we did get out of the bus, and he wanted his picture taken a few times... with the bridge in the background.
[ Wally ] He'd ask questions.
How deep do you think it is? How high do you think it is?
I mean, I liked the bridge too, but--
I mean, he just seemed so fascinated by it, and I just-- just thought that was kinda odd... to have such a fascination with it.
I don't know. It was like almost calling him, you know, type thing.
It was... like magnetic to him.
I don't know.
[ Wally ] We thought he might go and live out there.
Even if he's homeless, at least he has a city he loves.
'Cause he was homeless in Texas. Lived out of his car.
Met two girls online.
Went down twice. Those didn't work.
[ Mary ] He always fell in love with the wrong person.
I think everything just disillusioned him.
He had this idealistic view of things... and this perception of how everything should be, and then when it didn't meet up to his expectations--
After a while it was like, "What's the point then?"
[ Wally ] But he still had to make a choice.
[ Splash ]
[ Caroline ] Gene's choice, his preference, had been made years before.
He became increasingly alienated... and he had told his mother that he wanted to kill himself, and she, in essence, had told him, I didn't invest a lifetime in you... to have you die on me, kill yourself and walk away.
You don't have a right to do that while I'm alive.
[ Caroline ] And I think it was very hard for him... to watch his mother's... nonparticipation in a battle with cancer... that she might have won.
Uh, it was a choice on her part.
[ Dave ] When I talked to him, he was acting as if, "life goes on," you know, type situation.
And, you know, and...
I would always tell him, I'm here for you.
You still got family, no matter what, you know.
I'm a brother from another mother.
He said to me, after she was gone-- and there was a lot of stuff to clean up-- and he said, "Well, now I can finally-- um, now I can finally end it all."
And I looked at him and I said, "Well, you will promise me... that you will not go without saying good-bye."
[ Wally ] I remember coming home--
'Cause Thursday night's garbage day... and Friday's recycling day.
And Philip even did that before he left-- he took the recycling things out to the curb.
I came home that Friday and they were empty, and I said, "It's unusual for him not to bring the buckets back in."
And when I came in the house... as soon as she said, "Where's Philip? Isn't he with you?"
And I was like, "He did it."
And here's th-th-the hard part for me.
I had a feeling it was going to be in San Francisco, but I said, If he's in San Francisco... and I call the police to stop him, if I have time yet, that he's just gonna hang himself... or have the policemen shoot him.
And I said, if he's that determined, I have to let him go.
But when she asked me I said, "No, he's not coming home."
And, uh, from the death certificate... he was already done.
It was just waiting for the policemen to show up at the door.
[ Man ] We just came around the corner after snapping the shot... with San Francisco in the backdrop, and he was right there.
[ Man #2 ] Yeah, sort of surprised him. Yeah, we startled him.
[ Man #2 ] Came upon him--
[ Man #1 ] He was taking off his backpack...
In hindsight, he was probably getting ready to jump.
Then he put back his backpack on really quickly... and acted nervous.
We interrupted him from jumping.
[ Stammers ]
You spoke with him, 'cause you noticed something odd.
Yeah, just his whole body language, his whole energy was-- was just a bit off.
He was definitely nervous and he was shuffling his shoulder.
I initially picked up on that and said, "Are you okay? Wh-What's going on?"
And, uh, at that point, he, uh-- he made brief eye contact.
Well-dressed guy. Yeah.
Brief eye contact too. He was very nervous.
He wouldn't look you in the eye for very long.
He just kept darting away, looking away.
And his biggest concern, when you asked him, "Are you all right?"
Uh, he said, "It's a long way down to the water."
Yeah, he said, "It's a long way down." "Long way down." Right.
I, uh-- I didn't know how to quite take that when I heard him say that.
And I didn't know if I'd heard him correctly.
I thought maybe he meant it's a long way back to the other side of the bridge, and here I am thinking, "You're three-quarters of the way. You're close."
And of course that wasn't the case.
And we didn't see him jump. Did not see him jump.
[ Loud Splash ]
[ Wally ] To me he said he was just gonna go down so deep... that even if he changed his mind he couldn't swim to the top, but the coroner said it was over instantly.
[ Mary ] Boy, imagine what this looks like to people.
They probably look at us and say, what kind of mother and father were they?
[ Wally ] Yeah.
I wasn't perfect, but, I mean, I don't think I was such a terrible mother.
And then I remember Sharon said to me, "You know, it's not all about you.
It has nothing to do with you."
Yeah, I mean, I was raised in a family that's "dysfunctional"--
I mean, yeah. So was I.
My father was alcoholic. Hers was alcoholic.
They fought like cats and dogs, you know, and... the abuse and--
Yeah, I should be an alcoholic. I should be a serial killer.
You think you're raising your family to be, you know, religious or whatever, and you try and do the best, but you wind up doing more things that are harmful.
And then when you try and fix them, it might be too late.
And it's like, well, no matter what you do, good or bad, it's, you know-- things are gonna happen.
And he said, "If you and Mom, who I love, you know, are having problems, what hope is there for me?
I think you loved me the most and tried your best, and if you're having problems, you know, there's no way I can make it."
Took a lot of pictures while he was on the bridge. Yeah.
He wanted to show what he was seeing, what he was feeling.
[ Man ] I was taking pictures of Alcatraz at the time.
While I was taking a picture I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a girl walking by.
She climbed over the rail, and she did it so smoothly it was almost like she was going to a little-- like she had her own little clubhouse, I don't know, like she was going to sit on the ledge to eat lunch.
So I got a couple pictures of her climbing over, and then I started taking pictures of her standing on the ledge... and I realized that this girl was about to jump.
But when I was behind the camera... it was almost like it wasn't real...
'cause I was looking through the lens.
I was actually, like--
I guess I was waiting for her to jump, 'cause I thought there was nothing I could do.
It was too late.
Earlier I was actually staring down at the ledge... at a couple different points on the bridge, and I was just trying to think to myself what goes through peoples' minds... whenever they're standing on that ledge and they're about to jump off.
What's the last thing that they're thinking of?
Or are they thinking anything at all?
They just-- They just had enough and they just go and... that's it, they're gone.
I started yelling out to the girl, you know, asking her what was wrong.
She seemed to be speaking in a different language... and basically, like, tuning me out, like, thoroughly not thinking about what I was saying.
So I got up on the rail... and I reached out--
I really didn't know I was gonna be able to grab the back of her jacket, but once I grabbed it I just lifted her over the rail... and got her down on the ground.
She started to fight me a little bit, so I just sat on her chest and just called 911.
They were probably there within a couple minutes.
As crazy as it sounds, I think of myself like a National Geographic photographer must feel.
He's behind the camera filming, and there's like a big tiger running at him, and he's, like, this footage is so great he forgets that, you know, in a couple seconds that tiger's gonna be on top of him.
But it's like you're in that camera, you're just behind, and you don't really think about what's going on.
That's where I had to separate, or I actually had to get out of that mode of thinking... and actually act on it and do something to help her.
After I left the bridge patrol, I was going back to my vehicle... and I happened to look over, and it kinda looked like she'd turned back... and she looked right at me.
And it freaked me out for a second.
I just didn't expect her to, like, look back.
I don't know if she actually saw me... and was thinking, like, "You son of a bitch, I wanted to jump," or whatever it was that, uh-- that she was thinking.
I'm sure that in some way she did want to be rescued... because if she really wanted to commit suicide... and just take that, basically, ultimate shortcut to the next level, that she would have just climbed over and just jumped right off.
So I-I think that she was sort of crying out for help there a little bit.
The police did tell me... that she was involved in another incident on the bridge... and they talked her out of it.
And I just hope that she's doing okay.
[ Police Radio Chatter ]
[ Jen ] Gene had a lot riding on this relationship.
He wanted to get out of California, and he felt that it was gonna be like a new beginning.
I think he had-- he had it planned out in his head how it was gonna happen, and then when he got there the reality wasn't quite what was in his head.
Yeah, he-he-- I think he was chasing... a certain magical wonderland that would make all his problems go away... and making excuses as to why he couldn't find it here, expecting to find it somewhere else.
He just wanted to make it happen so bad, and that's why he went to St. Louis.
[ Caroline ] Only love-- really love-- feeling like he was loved and in love... was gonna save him.
And who's to say that this is not a genetic thing?
Who's to say that wasn't the reason his mother chose to have this child?
Because she too was depressed... and knew that she could keep herself here and functional... if she had a commitment.
And how do we know that it wasn't, at some... inner level, that he perceived this, very young, and that it colored his needs... to have someone... depend on him?
I don't know.
[ Children Shouting ]
[ Whistle Blows ]
[ Whistle Blows ]
[ Man ] The ideas of suicide, if I'm completely honest with myself, have been there for a long, long time.
Years. Way before I was diagnosed.
But I was just touching on it, like, you know, "Oh, I'd just kill myself."
But the real thought process... of actually going to do it and commit the act... started, I'd say, about '99, and that's when I cut my wrist.
At the end of his junior year in high school he had huge mood swings, and during his senior year, they-- they were just, uh, compelling.
I mean, he was constantly either very high or very low.
That was really a fight.
That's when Kevin was at his worst.
There were times where he couldn't even speak, and there were times where he wouldn't stop speaking.
I was hallucinating, and I had made the assumption that, uh, there were bugs in my bed and stuff, and they were, like, giving me AIDS and stuff like that.
And I was just completely off the wall.
[ Stammers ] I hadn't been sexually active for years, yet I thought I had AIDS.
And it was like, uh-- It was all in my head.
And I sprayed my bedsheets with a disinfectant, like a deodorizer, something like that, but I sprayed my bedsheets.
You know, I sleep in that and I inhaled it all night long, which caused the hallucinations to become greater and greater.
And so I got up out of bed, sat at my desk, and I wrote about--
I must have written five versions of my suicide letter... until I realized, "These are mean. I can't write 'em like this."
So I wrote a real nice one, or something I thought was nice.
I mean, it's a suicide letter, you know? So--
And I guess it said something like...
"Mom, you're not always right. Don't think you are. But I love you.
Dad, stop being so mean. You're hurting people."
He had a terrible episode, and there was no comment with regard to suicide.
It was a commentary with regard to hearing voices... and difficulty remaining, uh, under control.
And I called his psychiatrist the Sunday night prior... and had a conversation with him, and the psychiatrist told me, "No, don't worry about it.
Everything is gonna be fine."
Then Kevin and I stayed up and we chatted about it, and he seemed to be fine, almost completely calmed.
Our conversations go like this when he's mad at me.
He tells me to sit down in my chair, and he basically yells at me.
So I, uh-- [ Chuckles ]
I told him that I don't wanna--
What'd I say? I said, uh--
"I don't want to hurt anybody anymore.
I have to go away." Or something like that.
And he said, "You have an obligation to stay here for your family.
You have an obligation to me, who's raised you, given you everything you want.
You have an obligation to live for your brother, your sister"--
But he was, you know, mad the whole time.
So I said, "I'm not gonna do it, Dad. Don't worry. Don't worry."
He was like, "Do I have to take you to the hospital?"
Stuff like that. I was like, "No, no. It's all right."
I said, "Let me just sleep on it and we'll talk about it in the morning, okay?
I'm really tired, Dad. I'm really tired."
So he woke me up the next morning about 7:00, 'cause I'd gotten maybe, like, two hours' sleep.
And he woke me up and he said, "Hey, you're coming to work with me."
I said no. He said, "No, come on.
I'm worried about you. I'm really worried about you."
I said, "Dad, I'm fine."
The entire time, lying through my teeth, 'cause I knew I was gonna go to the bridge and jump.
[ Pat ] Said, "Listen, why don't I take the day off and we'll go do something."
And he said, "Nope. I'd rather go to school."
[ Kevin ] I kissed him good-bye on the cheek... and I was like, that's the last time I'm ever gonna kiss my dad good-bye.
You know? I'll never see him again.
And he'll never see me.
And I went to my English class, dropped all my other classes.
I took the "K" out to the 28. Took the 29 out to the bridge.
And the whole time I was just bawlin' my eyes out.
Talking to myself on the bus. You know, just--
I had stopped before I got on the 28.
I had stopped at Walgreens, and I bought my last meal--
[ Chuckles ] Starburst and, uh, Skittles.
And, uh, when I got to the bridge,
found a place and I thought, all right, not too close to the pillar.
I won't hit the pillar. I'll just hit the water.
I'll either drown or I'll die on impact or I'll have a heart attack.
So, I got there.
Stood there for, like, 40 minutes at that spot, just crying my eyes out.
Joggers, bikers, runners, tourists-- whatever-- running by or walking by, looking at me.
Didn't say anything.
It's not their problem, but anyway.
And this woman came up to me. She said, in a German accent-- I think it was a German accent.
She said, "Will you take my picture?"
I was like, "Your picture?"
Woman, I'm gonna kill myself. What is wrong with you?
Can't you see the tears pouring down my face?
But she couldn't. She was on her own hype.
So I took the camera. I took her picture.
Said, "Miss, have a nice day."
Turned back to the traffic. Turned to the bay.
Said, fuck it. Nobody cares. Pardon my French.
And I hurtled over the bridge.
[ Kevin ] See, what most people do, apparently, is they get on the ledge outside of the bridge, and they stand there.
People can talk 'em out of it, you know? Or pull 'em up. Whatever.
I didn't want anybody to talk me out of it. I just wanted to die.
So I hurtled over the railing with my hands... and I was falling headfirst, and the second my hands left the bar at the railing, I said, I don't want to die. What am I gonna do?
This is like-- This is it. I'm dead.
So I said, well, maybe if I get feetfirst.
Maybe. Maybe I'll live.
So I thought, All right. It's worth a shot.
So my head was falling like this, and I pushed myself back somehow, and I landed, literally, like I was sitting down, kind of like-- maybe a little more elevated with the legs.
And I hit with my feet... and I guess the water treaded through my boots a little bit, so maybe helped the impact.
And the boots are pretty tough, so--
And I went down about, I'd say 50, 40-- 40, 50 feet.
Didn't know which way was up or down.
I-- I was thinking, Am I still alive?
'Cause it's like a four-to-seven second fall.
It's like 120 miles per hour.
It's like, uh-- I think that's like... seven seconds below terminal velocity, or like the velocity that downslope skiers get.
So, uh-- [ Stammers ]
I was awake. I was alive.
I was swimming my butt off to get somewhere where there was air.
So I reached the surface, I guess, because I saw some sort of light.
I was screaming for help, and I couldn't really scream. My voice was gone.
I couldn't yell. I was like-- [ Whispering ] Help.
I felt something brush by my leg.
I was like, Oh, great. I didn't die jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
A shark is going to eat me.
I was like, This is ridiculous.
Uh, years later I found out-- Matter of fact, last year I found out it wasn't a shark.
It was a seal circling me, and apparently it was... the only thing keeping me afloat.
And you cannot tell me that wasn't God.
'Cause that's what I believe, and that's what I'll believe till the day I die.
[ Pat ] I was sitting in my office, and, uh, my secretary said that, uh, there's someone on the line for you from Marin General Hospital.
I picked up the phone and a woman said, uh, "Is this Pat Hines?"
And I said, "Yes."
She said, "Your son has just jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge."
I've lived here all my life.
I know what that means.
And I said, "Is he alive?"
And she said, "Oh, he is."
And I thought... that they probably told me that just to keep me calm... so that I wouldn't wreck my car... driving over to see his mangled body.
[ Loud Splash ]
[ Kevin ] I shattered my T12 and my L1, which is my lower lumbar region, into very, very tiny little pieces, and the pieces went into my organs, uh, but they missed my heart.
At this point in time I still thought he would be dead, so I went up this gurney and I looked down, and he was wide awake.
And he looked up at me and he said, "I'm sorry."
And then he just closed his eyes and, uh--
I just stood there staring at him.
And he was, by that point in time, in a coma.
It was just super scary, you know?
I mean, I can't-- I can't explain it.
To feel it would be like--
like feeling an alien jumping out of your body or something, you know?
Like your soul or whatever.
'Cause it was ridiculous. Scary.
Just really... wild.
[ Chattering, Faint ]
[ Pat ] 2004 was a tough year for Kevin.
It hasn't been a cakewalk.
Kevin's been visited by extreme mental illness... three times subsequent to his jump off the bridge.
The most recent, he was confined for almost three months... while he struggled and his doctors struggled... to get his bipolar bracketed in.
And it's a matter of diet, it's a matter of consistency... and it's a matter of proper drug therapy.
Uh, Kevin will begin to make headway, his life will gain traction... and then he begins to get outside of the brackets... into which he can function.
And, unfortunately, it has taken three times now... outside-- in those outside areas-- to convince him-- prove to him, more importantly, that he can't go there.
And, unfortunately for Kevin, it's get up at 8:00 in the morning, take your pills at 8:00, have lunch at noon, if you will, uh, dinner at 6:00, pills at 9:00, bed at 10:00.
And that's a very, very difficult existence for a 24-year-old male... in this society.
But I've told him, it's a wonderful disease to have, Kev, because you can control it.
If you had cancer, you wouldn't have the same opportunity.
Unlike cancer, Kevin, as long as you stay within these bands, you've got it, it doesn't have you.
Funny my family members still think I haven't learned my lesson, but the lesson was learned a long time ago.
And, you know,
it's hard when you keep messing up... and nobody in your family believes in you anymore... or trusts you.
Or they're scared you're gonna go attempt again... and they're always worried, walking on eggshells when they talk to you.
'Cause I'm tired of that. I just want them to say, Hey, Kev, what's crackin', man?
[ Stammers ] Just be real about it.
Don't-- Don't walk on eggshells around me.
I'm the same-- I'm the same guy.
Just a... different soul. You know?
[ Sighs ]
I just wanna... be normal again. [ Chuckles ]
But I never will be.
[ Man ] We started using crystal meth... and, you know, using crystal, everything started going down the toilet.
She lost her job. I lost my job.
Um, we ended up becoming homeless.
She has a little easier time letting go of drugs than I do.
I have a very addictive personality.
And, uh, just found out last week that she's been cheating on me again.
[ Sniffles ]
So I picked up my son, I gave him a hug and a kiss and said good-bye, and told her to eff off. [ Sniffles ]
And then I found myself just walking toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was crying the whole way. You know?
[ Voice Cracking ] Although, only thing I kept saying... was, you know, As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...
I shall not fear a thing 'cause God's with me. [ Sniffles ]
So when I got to the halfway point of the bridge, I set my book down and I jumped over onto the railing.
And I just sat there, you know, crying and thinking for a little bit.
And the cops showed up.
I made the mistake of letting them get to know me too well.
'Cause they completely used my son against me.
[ Woman ] Actually, I came to the bridge last year at this time... to do the same thing, and so it's not a new idea, but kind of one that became a little obsessive, I suppose.
I literally got here--
Today I was on an airplane-- [ Laughs ] from Houston, Texas.
What drew me to it in spite of having to do so much preparation... is that it is so accessible.
Um, you just kind of hop over.
But yeah, letting go, that's the tough part.
I don't know if people think about that a lot-- like the process that a person goes through... in trying to decide how to end their life.
It's like a search. It's like looking for a college to attend or something.
You know, your pros and cons.
And it's a destructive act, but there's a lot of rational thought... that goes into an act that a lot of people just consider irrational.
In my bag I had my parents' phone number, and I wanted them to know what happened... and not just maybe agonizing... over what happened to their daughter for a week or two.
So I wanted people to see me actually do it, and I think I really did want somebody to say, no, don't do it.
[ Caroline ] When Gene called me from St. Louis in despair... and was gonna jump off the bridge there, he said, I'm just calling to say good-bye.
What could I say to him?
You know, I had tried on occasion to find... something that would encourage him to live.
And I asked him again for a favor.
I said, put my name and phone number... in a plastic bag in your pocket... so that when you are found, I can be told.
I need to know.
[ Matt ] He had called me from a bridge back there.
[ Jen ] But he called me first from the train tracks... saying he was gonna lay his neck across the train tracks, and because he said things like that all the time, I didn't call him back-- No. because I just didn't want to hear it.
You know, you can only hear the same thing so many times... and give the same answer so many times-- you know, stop being stupid, don't be ridiculous.
It gets tiring after a while.
You want to hear something different.
So I guess when I didn't call him back, he went to the bridge.
Yeah. He had made his way to a bridge. He called me on my cell phone.
He told me this relationship that he was pursuing was all falling apart.
So I kept him on the phone. I was talking to him.
At one point in our conversation, he said, "Oh, a cop's driving by."
And I actually heard the cop stop and ask him, "Hey, you're not gonna jump, are you?"
Or they asked him, "Is everything okay? Are you having problems?"
And he was like, "No, not really."
And, uh, they decided to leave him alone.
And that's when I said, Look, I'm gonna get a ticket for you for the bus, and you're gonna come back to California.
And I convinced him to do that.
[ Man ] David is very dramatic, boisterous, a life-of-the-party type.
Playing the piano, singing.
You know, really Mr. Party.
Which is very interesting, because I'm not that way at all, and I think part of the reason he liked me... was that I didn't ask him to do that, or he didn't feel he had to do that around me.
[ Woman ] He was a handsome guy.
He was a good dresser.
And he just exuded this, which was another reason why I guess it's so... shocking to me, is that he just exuded this joy for life.
[ Woman ] Ruby was someone that I was always proud to pull in, so when there was somebody new in my life... or I was dating somebody for a while, I'd want to bring him over.
You know? [ Laughs ]
[ Woman ] One of Jim's favorite things was when he'd see me... he'd say, Oh, I met a new friend.
You've got to meet this person. You've just got to meet this person.
He had great delight in bringing people together.
He really loved people in a, um--
Just a very warm personality.
At least, that's how he was in the beginning.
[ Ruby's Friend ] Before six months ago, I would never have said... that I thought Ruby had a significant depression problem.
I know that he was alone, without a source of income.
I know his sister had killed herself.
I know he had all those variables.
Nothing before this last few months of his life... indicated to me that he was out of the range... of the normal ups and downs that we just don't share all the time.
David came over to Charlie's to have dinner with us, and that's when he told us for the first time he was seriously on medication.
But up until that point, apparently he had been self-medicating with alcohol.
And although I knew him for nine years, I could count on maybe--
Maybe two times did I see him really drunk.
[ Gordon ] David would, every so often, determine that he had to get his life back together, or he would be confronted by me or other friends, and start treatment.
He took antidepressants for a month and a half or so and made a big show of it, but then, in the end, I arranged the labels... so that I could see if he'd been picking the bottles up, and he hadn't touched them.
Didn't touch them for weeks.
[ Ruby's Friend ] So a couple of months before he died, Ruby started talking about he couldn't get over his feelings of losses... and he thought that he might be depressed, but he didn't have any health insurance.
So he said, I want some meds.
Got any ideas about how I can get some?
And I had tried some antidepressant meds.
They didn't seem to help and I couldn't sleep on them.
So I said, okay, listen. [ Chuckles ]
[ Sighs ]
You can have mine,
but you've gotta call a physician for information on how to take them.
I can't pre-- I cannot be responsible for how you take them, but you can have them.
I was gonna give him the whole bottle of them in the original bottle, and I thought, what if one day somebody goes into his apartment--
[ Voice Cracking ] and is looking through his stuff... and, you know, finds my name on a bottle of meds?
So I took them out and I put them in an envelope.
Just a plain envelope.
[ Ginny ] It was around November-- or the fall-- when Jim lost an enormous amount of money... and he actually made the statement, "Well, if I don't sell these pots--"
Which were these Japanese ceramics--
"I'm just gonna have to commit hara-kiri."
[ Shelley ] When I called him, I said, "David, I know you're in trouble.
I know you've lost your job, and I want to help you."
He stopped because I'd never really said that before-- because I didn't view him as really in trouble.
And he said, "I can't talk about this right now... because I don't want to cry in the middle of the street."
And I thought, oh, my God. You know? This is serious.
He's really emotionally on the verge of tears.
Five months before he jumped, he had written a note, an e-mail, to a couple dozen of his friends... saying that he had been contemplating suicide, and a lot of them wrote back to him and called him.
However, he never mentioned suicide to me, ever.
And I just can't fathom the idea of committing suicide, and I just think I thought that he was one of those people who, for him, it just wasn't an option, but apparently it was.
[ Woman ] My daughter was leaving for camp... and I said, "You know what? Let's go to the movies."
We went into the theater--
And he just--
He just put his hands-- his head in his hands, and he just... wept.
He just wept in the movie.
And I was tearing up a little too, but he was just crying and crying and crying.
[ Sniffles ]
And he put his hand on my leg,
and I said, "Ruby, I don't need to be comforted."
And he looked at me.
I thought, oh, my God.
And I just-- I just--
You know, it was then that I remembered...
that I put the meds in a plain white envelope... a couple months earlier.
We got out of the movie theater... and we were walking to his car, and, uh, I thought,
he's not just depressed, he wants to kill himself.
And he said, the meds--
"I-I think I can't sleep 'cause of the meds."
And I said, "I know.
I wish I hadn't given them to you... because I feel like I-- I made it worse.
They had the same effect on me."
He said, "That's it, actually.
I can't sleep, and I'm just up.
I can't stop worrying.
I just can't turn it off.
Not sleeping is what is making me crazy.
I'm thinking about killing myself."
And I said, "I know."
You know, I felt it when we were walking to the car.
I just-- Something was gone.
And he said, "I'm so ashamed to tell you that I'm thinking about doing this.
What would you think of me if I did?"
And I said, "Ruby, I have understood... that there are people who have incessant pain, but-- [ Sighs ]
I don't think you're one of them.
Do you have a plan?"
And he said, "Well, I'm thinking about different things.
I'd overdose except I'm not sure how much to take... and I might wake up in an ER, and that would be horrible.
And... I thought about the bridge."
And I said, "You can't do the bridge. Too dramatic."
He said, "What about people who shoot themselves?"
And I said, "It's too messy and it's not fair to your landlord, and anyway, you know, you are not in the category of people who get to kill themselves."
And then he wanted to come over and spend some time... and just didn't want to go home yet, but I actually just-- I wanted to be by myself.
So I said, "No. Can't.
But if you feel really desperate, you call me.
I'll drop anything."
I did say that.
So then I got out of my car and went home.
And I didn't hear from him,
actually, ever again.
[ Woman ] * Since I lost you
* I can't get through the day
* Without at least one big boo-hoo *
* The pain won't go away
* What am I gonna do? *
** [ Continues, Fades ]
We all know how much-- all of us who've been close to Jim-- how his passing has affected us, whether it's... fear that, you know, you might get to that same place and do the same thing, or, um, you know, just guilt because you felt you weren't a good enough friend, or what-whatever it is, there--
There is a lot of different reactions.
Talking to everybody, there's a lot of different reactions.
And I think everyone is trying to make sense of it, and-and as one--
Jim's particular passing which, as a friend of mine said, he was warning you, but he was not asking for help.
I thought that he was probably feeling so ashamed--
Because the theme of that night was, I'm so ashamed I'm telling you this-- that I, um, made the mistake of giving him some space to recover.
And that was a bad call, I think.
You know, I could have 5150'd him.
[ Splash ]
But also, I didn't want to humiliate him... and have him be in a psych facility...
'cause I wasn't sure they were really gonna help him... and I didn't want to cross my boundaries.
But I will never again not intrude.
I won't respect their privacy and their--
And I will not ever again not do something...
'cause I'm afraid that they might be embarrassed.
[ Gordon ] There's obviously a fuzzy line... between doing nothing and doing what would have prevented it.
And who knows where that line is?
He was a grown-up. I couldn't tell him what to do with his life, and I suppose if we had had him locked up or something, then, um, he might still be alive, but, uh--
I don't blame myself like that.
Um, initially, several of his other friends... went out there as a group, because they knew the light pole number... where he had jumped.
I couldn't go, but a couple of months later I did go, and it was very difficult.
And I'll never be able to sort of drive across the bridge again... without some kind of, uh, emotional reaction.
Something else I'm pissed off at him about.
Such a great bridge. [ Laughs ]
I think the bridge has a romance, a false-- you know, a false promise of-- a false romantic promise to it.
Because he's dead.
[ Stammers ]
And... he doesn't get to benefit from the romantic-- from the romanticism of it.
He doesn't have any benefit from it.
It romanticizes him, a bit, in the legend, but, um--
but he doesn't-- he doesn't benefit from it.
So what if his story has that at the end?
And so I think there's an empty promise.
It's almost like, you know, when alcoholics... talk about the romance of the bottle.
Like, maybe the first sip is really good, and everything else is hell.
So maybe walking out there he had a romantic moment or two, or an hour,
but hitting the water can't be fun.
I think he felt like a failure, and this was some sort of redemption.
I think that it just drew him with this idea... of, you know, sort of... being famous.
[ Matt ] The last time I saw him, I was leaving for work, and, uh, I gave him five bucks... so he could get a pack of smokes, go grab a paper, and, you know, go out and maybe hit a couple places... to put in some applications, and that's when he disappeared.
I was the last one to actually talk to him.
And I remember when I was walking out the door, I--
The last thing I said to him-- I said, "Cheer up, Gene."
You know, I said, "Everything will work out."
You know. And, uh, just jokingly I said, "See you when I get home. Love you."
And that was it. That was the last thing I ever said to him.
The last thing I ever said to him was a fight. Yeah.
Because he wasn't--
I didn't think he was trying to find a job as hard as he could, and it was making me angry... because I knew that he was very smart and he was very capable, and the only thing holding him back was him just not caring.
And he had found one of the kids' sidewalk chalk, and he was sitting behind Matt's truck, and he wrote "End me" on the ground.
Like he scratched it in over and over and over.
And my son came in and got me, and said, "Why would Gene write that?"
[ Matt ] Knowing Gene and the way his personality works and stuff, the Golden Gate Bridge was perfect for him... because it's just one easy step, and there's no turning back.
In hindsight, I almost feel like it was meant to happen.
Maybe he's happy now.
You know, who knows? I don't.
But, uh, I know he was--
He couldn't have lasted much longer.
Not the way he was going.
But if he would have waited, there was a message on our answering machine... from one of the places in Oakland-- Yeah. that had offered him a management position, which was what he wanted.
They were opening a new... GameStop, I think it was.
Whatever. One of the game places. One of the game stores.
They were gonna put him straight into management.
He had an interview the day that he jumped at 10:00 in the morning.
And I don't know if he got the message or if he missed it, 'cause I don't know what time he left.
He was gone before I got home.
So, if he would have either just checked the message or waited--
[ Dave ] I couldn't fully cry and I couldn't fully whatever, but the overwhelming emotion was anger.
I was extremely pissed.
I wanted to drive out to the Bay Area... and go to the coroner and,
you know-- Clear! [ Imitates Defibrillator ] Wake up.
Why did you do that?
I don't see any reason for people to do that.
Gene had people in this world that loved him, and he hurt 'em.
If I see him again, that's what I want to tell him.
He hurt me, and I didn't think he would ever do that.
"Disturbed" is an interesting word 'cause it--
[ Chuckles ]
That's all I can define it as, is I was disturbed.
Now I miss him. Now I'm sad.
But at the moment, there was almost--
That I got the news, there was almost a sense of relief, um,
that he wasn't going to be... disappointed... or unhappy anymore.
Now I miss him, but... I don't have any-- any answers.
Um, just a bunch of observations... and a bunch of experience... of feeling disturbed... about that situation.
I don't know why people kill themselves, and yet, it's a small step to empathize, to say--
Because I think we all experience moments of despair, that--
It would just be so much easier not to do this anymore.
But for most of us, the sun comes out, and then, oh, well.
Tomorrow is another day.
Why he chose the bridge, I don't know.
Maybe there's a certain amount of release... from pain, by pain.
Maybe he just wanted to fly one time.
** [ Piano: Ballad Intro ]
[ Man ] * Here
* Where they can't find us
* I dare them to call
* Me out
* I tell you, we
* Met here on purpose
* I bet they can't wait
* To wake us up
* It's all
* A little bit strange
* I know
* It's a little bit strange
* Make a point and ignore them *
* Come on, let's wait
* This out
* They'll find out we
* Never stop turning
* And sometimes it's tough
* To change direction
* I know
* It's a little bit strange
* It's all
* A little bit strange
* At the end of the day
* Gonna say what I mean
* It's slipping all away
* At the end of our days
* We'll escape
* We'll escape
** [ Vocalizing ]
* I know
* It's a little bit strange
* It's all
* A little bit strange
* At the end of the day
* Gonna say what I mean
* Well, I'm
* At the end of the day
* Gonna say what I mean
* Well, I
* Tear it all away
* It's slipping all away
* It's slipping all away
* At the end of our days
* We'll escape
* We'll escape
* Oh, there's no escape
* We'll escape *
** [ Vocalizing ]