By Cristian Salazar, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Eighteen-year-old Tyler Clementi
Chef Joseph Cerniglia, a contestant on the reality cooking show "Kitchen Nightmares," also
jumped from the iconic bridge in the past two weeks. His restaurant was mired in debt, though
beginning to make a comeback.
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Those who choose to end their lives in public, dramatic fashion often pick landmarks — from
Bridge, with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.
Authorities are looking at how to prevent the public deaths with everything from concrete barriers,
suicide hot line phones or safety nets hanging from bridges.
The measures would have made a difference for Kevin Hines, who survived a leap from the
746-foot Golden Gate Bridge in 2000.
"I would never have jumped off that bridge" if he found obstructions in the way, he said.
In New York, few city landmarks with the potential to become suicide hot spots are as accessible
as the George Washington Bridge, which has a pedestrian path and a low railing.
The Empire State Building has a 10-foot-high safety fence and an abundance of security guards,
but more than 30 people have leaped from it to their deaths since it opened in 1931. The Brooklyn
Bridge, which also has seen fatal jumps this year, has an easy-to-get-to pedestrian walkway, but it
hangs over lanes of vehicle traffic rather than water.
New York City police responded to over 640 reports of people either jumping or threatening to jump
from buildings or bridges as of Aug. 31, NYPD spokesman Pual Browne said — a 27% increase over
the same period last year.
The police have officers trained to talk down and grab would-be jumpers and deploy air bags in
the streets to catch people threatening to jump from buildings.
A dozen telephones are installed along the pedestrian walkways on the George Washington
Bridge that patch potential jumpers through to suicide hot lines. The phones are near signs that say,
"Need help?" in both English and Spanish.
Dr. John Draper, project director of the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line in New York, says
a simple concrete barrier is a much better suicide deterrent on a bridge than a telephone.
"We've seen on bridges that people don't really call hot lines in high numbers," he said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the bridge, would not release
information on the number of people who have jumped from the span, saying it's impossible to
determine the exact count. But Port Authority spokesman Steve Sigmund said the agency is
"continuing to partner with mental health experts to further strengthen" it prevention efforts.
Psychologists who study suicide say the landmarks can become attractive ways out for
emotionally disturbed people wanting to die.
"When they think about dying in this way, they may have some degree of magical thinking,
knowing that it is very likely their death will get publicity and media attention," said
Dr. Alan L. Berman, executive director of the Washington-based American Association of
Hines, now 29, who suffers from bipolar disorder, told The Associated Press that he had
believed the jump would be less painful than other forms of death, and less frightening
than taking pills. He decided after doing research on the Internet that "the only option
was a bridge."
By conservative estimates, 1,300 people have jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate
Bridge since it opened in 1937. At least 29 people leaped last year, and eight have committed
suicide there through July this year, according to bridge officials. Transportation authorities
voted two years ago to hang stainless steel nets from the bridge to deter suicides, although
funding for the $50 million project remains elusive.
Most jumpers suffer a grisly death, with massive internal injuries, broken bones and skull
fractures. Some die from internal bleeding. Others asphyxiate from drowning.
Hines said his leap was anything but painless.
"This image that you just free-fall into an abyss is just a joke," he said.
Draper, of the suicide hot line network, said that popular opinion aside, research shows that
barriers making the jumps from high places impossible will prevent the public suicides.
"Many people are under the impression that if you just put up a barrier they will find another way
to kill themselves. It's an argument that people will make against putting up a barrier,"
Draper says. "And it's myth."
Contributing: Associated Press writers Amy Westfeldt and Tom Hays, news researchers
Monika Mathur and Barbara Sambriski and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco
contributed to this report.
While GLAAD is touting and celebrating its Diversity Report for TV and the 2010-2011 TV season, At the launch of the 2010-2011 television season, GLAAD estimates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) scripted characters represent 3.9% of all scripted series regular characters on the five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC. This is slightly more than last year, with 23 series regular characters identified as LGBT.
After a two year decline, the number of LGBT series regulars on cable has made a healthy rebound. A total of 35 series regulars were counted this year; up from 32 in 2008, and 25 last year, the BBC has commissioned a report which finds almost one in five in the UK are uncomfortable with having homosexuals portrayed on television.
A survey found that 18% feel “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with it, even after the 9pm watershed. Just under half of respondents said they were either comfortable or ambivalent.
Around a fifth of straight people said there was too much content relating to gay people on TV generally, although 46% said the volume was about right. Many lesbians felt there were not enough gay women on TV and most were portrayed either as “butch” or “lipstick lesbians”.
Gay men said they would welcome a more realistic portrayal of gay life and criticised a tendency to feature camp men, though they said this was improving.
The research also found that landmark gay storylines were regarded as hugely important by gay respondents. Gay characters on soaps such as EastEnders and Coronation Street were also seen as important. The study is one the biggest of its kind, based on a survey of more than 1,600 people and discussion groups involving 500. A BBC public consultation had more than 9,400 responses. The findings will shape coverage for years to come and could lead to the introduction of more lesbian characters in the corporation’s dramas. – Source – Guardian UK http://focusontherainbowopine.outloudblogs.com