Coping: With Suicide and ISIS

It was a rather remarkable lunch this week; a couple of guys who have know each other for 63-years – been friends the whole time – and are still learning from one-another’s adventures in Life.

We somehow got onto the topic of suicide. My pal, being a retired Army major in the mental health care field, had a lot to say about suicide, not that I can remember how the topic came up.

But when he was stationed at The Presidio in the mid to late 1980’s, he relayed the research there of a very bright Lt. Col. who had studied jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge.

During one of his presentations on his research (in the days before PowerPoint) what struck my chum was that virtually all except one (at the time) of the jumpers had leapt to their death on the city-facing side of the bridge.

While not sure, it was speculated that even in their most desperate and tortured final minutes, people still had some level of connection to humanity. Or, perhaps it was that there was a perception of audience – much as witnesses to their last desperate act.

Now as it turns out, our friends live in Gig Harbor – west of Tacoma and over the Tacoma Narrows Bridges.

As you would expect, people also jump off this bridge at the rate of perhaps a half-dozen, or more, per year.

Again, there is the “connection to humanity” evident. The north side of the old bridge faces an evident turn in the channel and there is a beach community. Though small, it seems to serve the same purpose (audience/witness) that the San Francisco skyline seems to present down south.

There are extremely rare jumps from the new bridge completed a few years back. No audience or witness positions to speak of, perhaps. And on the north side of the new bridge the dominant view is of the old/original bridge.

Some keen insight was gained into the real nature of people today: When traffic is narrowed to two of the four westbound lanes, it is not uncommon for people in passing cars to chant “Jump…jump…jump…”

The specific motivation is never known for sure, but the alternatives are all quite distressing: Either people are angry because of the inconvenience they of the me-me-me generation being delayed 20-minutes by traffic, or the bloodlust we have fought hard to suppress is still there and waiting to come out.

Having lived in the South for a good while, we know how institutional racism works, and now – upon hearing how people have this kind of reaction to people trying to resolve their lives through death – our confidence in the quality of our underlying humanity is deeply questioned.

That’s not the point of this morning’s discussion, but it is worth noting in passing. Because when (more than if) times ever get really rough – as in universal hunger of the Great Depression rough – our expectation is that humans will act much more violently and less humanely than in similar events in historic times.

Ruin Constitutional rule, run-up unpayable debts, throw in handfuls of multiculturalism, turn off the Melting Pot, and turn up warfare-based tribalism, and there is almost no end to the disaster we’re now able to concoct.

Amazingly, we persist in thinking of our cultural as being at some kind of never-before pinnacle of achievement. While that may be true on technology and the G4/G5 front, it’s becoming clear to us that humanity peaks as a complex waveform: Quality of Life may have peaked in the 1960s when such insensitive behavior toward potential suicides would a) never happen and b) would have been universally abhorred.

Like I said, this is our tango-uniform version of “progress” when seen in the clear light of dawn.

Which has what to do with ISIS, you’re wondering?

Ah…just so.

The local news media has an informal agreement among themselves not to report bridge jumpers.

As a result, the numbers haven’t risen, but seem rather to track generally the population and to some extent social stresses in the population in general.

Since the jumpers aren’t given press, there is less incentive to jump.

Fast forward to a Google News Search like this one. ISIS is a media circus.

At the distant end of the publicity spectrum from how suicide jumpers off the Tacoma Narrows Bridges are treated, the immature and inciting online wannabe media are scrambling over one-another to present the most gross, gory, detailed accounts of ISIS handiwork.

But Ures truly offers the thought that ISIS would be only a small fraction of the problem it is had all media, from the NY Times and WaPo on down, decided not to yield there pages to the exploits of ISIS. Especially in terms that are easy enfolded into marketing materials. Named shooters and bombers become recruiting poster children of a deranged movement.

Sadly, few – if any – of the gonzo-journos will grok the importance or honoring the public trust. But if names were withheld, the recruiting online recruiting would wither. Why join a movement that doesn’t have traction?

Turns out that the same crooked media – that holds Hillary signs and accepts scripting issued by the anti-Bernie party – is guilty of other high crimes as well; unwitting tools and fools for the recruiters of violence.

For the marketing reality is that violence against humanity is a product. This product is being monetized by governments and terrorists alike. The early “brands” – like Red Brigades – were eventually squashed. But the follow-on brands of inhumanity and death – al Qaeda and ISIS – are competing for headspace just as Folgers and Maxwell House.

We live in a sound bite world.   We sell news like soap or coffee.  You can see the product hand off from al Qaeda (blue) to ISIS (red) in Google Trends:



Classic product replacement.

Although Washington is nominally a “blue state” the local media here still get some things right, even as we did when in my news director days we had an informal agreement NOT to report bomb threats, either.

The online media – lacking professional ethics and driven mainly by traffic which in turn equals revenue – fails to grasp how they are used and how media doesn’t make the world a better place, but more often than not? Worse.

Thus they have become no different, no more able to claim the high ground on any topic than the drive-bys at the scene of the latest Tacoma Narrows Bridge jumper attempt.

They chant the online version of “Jump….jump….jump….”

The page counts roll. The revenue rises. And we notice how the shadow of the Tower of Babel is beginning to fall on our latter day Gomorrah.

Political Fraud:  Liability?

When a party pretends to be impartial and raises money from Bernie supporters, when indeed there is some sense the “fix may have been in” with the coronation of HBil…at what point does the line into “fraud” get crossed?

At what point does it go to court and the DNC have to face the specter of a legal defense of its actions being brought to light by Wikileaks?

Just asking…

If I raised money from you on the basis of a false promise, would that not be fraud?  So how is present circumstance different?

Write when you get rich,


Coping: With Suicide and ISIS — 24 Comments

  1. A spiritual commentary I read stated that as an old soul closes in on its final life experiences, it withdraws from society so as to focus on its goal and avoid distractions. I cannot say that I am an old soul, but I really don’t like society here. I am definitely a loner, and while sometimes lonely, often find it preferable to interacting with lots of folks who are only interested in the mundane. I am finding it easier to avoid the news, and pop culture in general. Occasionally I see a celebrity on tv and have no clue who they are or what they do. I like going to the park or arboretum and just enjoying nature. Humans are still too immature to create a truly good society.

  2. Suicide and ISIS marketing. Only you George. Only you could find a way to tie the two together. You are one sick puppy dude.

    You know they got pills for one of the two … and you. LOL!

  3. The media in the US has proven time and again that it will slant the news to fit a political agenda. Black attackers become “teens” and “youths”. Back when George was in broadcasting, people in the media had some scruples, they have none now. Giving them license to omit important aspects of a story, of a crime that has happened, is unacceptable. a bomb threat is just that, a threat

  4. Re:
    ‘Quality of Life may have peaked in the 1960s when such insensitive behavior toward potential suicides would a) never happen and b) would have been universally abhorred.”

    As a child of the 60s, I grew up with MAD Magazine and other humor sources making light of the “jump, jump” crowds gathering below suiciders. Such “insensitive behavior” may be more visible now but even my parents joked about it 50 years ago. People are the same good-natured scum they’ve always been – but the web makes it more immediately visible in bulk.

  5. The city where I live is known for having ‘a lot’ of bridges (and viaducts). That being said, there are a couple of ‘outer ones’ that attract suicides (except for a couple of inner core ones that get people w/o cars). Generally these are not news, unless it causes traffic problems (Yes, that is cold), but unlike the SF bridge, most people look toward the more peaceful, bucolic side; I think SF may be the unusual, but reasonable when you think that even if someone is going to kill themselves it might be frightening to ‘jump off in to the ocean’.

    Something that does get a great deal of attention though, is the unfortunate person who jumps off a building – there have been several in my city – and while this is ‘effective’ in a brutal way – it is also selfish as there are usually bystanders and parked cars hit.

    All this of course, (and the quiet ones you will never know of, mostly) are in many ways the result of poor mental health resources. Not that long ago, there was a ‘big deal’ made about a new facility here that was opening up to handle acute cases, but the beds involved were not that great (under 100) and in a large metro area too. Not enough! Need more resources!

    A person may complain about the cost involved – but it is far less than either the ‘clean up’ or the effect on family, friends, employers, or the community at large.

  6. Report From Duluth, Mn.
    Last Thursday we had an early morning storm which knocked most of the area’s power out. A ship arriving at the harbor clocked 100 mph wind and was congratulated by the Coast guard for working a miracle in not wrecking the ship in the harbor entrance. Healthy 14″ tree trunks were snapped and large old trees were knocked over, pulling up 10′ and larger patches of roots and sod in our woodsy town.

    Friday I called Northern Tools to find out if they had the generator I had been eyeing in stock: “Yes we have generators” was how they answered the phone and mine was in stock and on sale (not many dumb enough to shell out for a sine wave inverter I guess). There were a dozen people lined up to buy generators but there were 4 of mine stacked on the floor and 4 more just arriving so I got in the checkout line with mine. Rather than argue about not getting the sale price as advertised and stated I paid up eyeing the long line of angry impatient folks with chain saws and generators behind me.

    Sunday news was that a lot of people would be without power until Thursday (today), ours came on Monday afternoon. A walk down nearby streets found a few broken power poles and lines broken at almost every span by trees and/or broken poles, which explained why the broken high tension line in our back yard wasn’t more spectacular. Lineworkers were brought in from outside the area to about quadruple the local power company’s work force.

    Most folks reacted by aggressively attacking cleanup with friends, neighbors and family showing up to help and most streets were open to traffic within a few days. A fortune was made on generators judging from all the new ones at about every other house. Coping seemed to be in 3 camps: leave town for a holiday, throw a freezer party and cook all your food for friends and family, or hunker down with a generator. Oddly, the city asked residents not to take downed wood for personal use so that it could be used to apply for state and federal disaster aid. It will be interesting to learn how all of this is disposed since it is state policy to discourage or forbid firewood transportation and even use.

    Is this not newsworthy or can national news media only handle 2 political conventions at this time?

  7. Political parties are PRIVATE enterprises that exist for the sole purpose to nominate the person that the party thinks can win the election. The method that the party chooses to do this is completely up to the party. They may choose to allow “the people” to vote on the nominee; this is commonly, but incorrectly, called an “election.”

    Make no mistake, there is no election to select the party’s nominee. You do not have any Constitutional right to take part in this selection process. The party is free to use whatever method it desires, including “just deciding.” There is no requirement for the selection process to be “fair” or “just.” The process is whatever the party wants it to be.

    Thus there is no fraud. No laws have been broken in the nomination process, despite whatever funds may have been raised from whom. The Bernie supporters have no dog in that hunt.

    Do they feel violated, lied to, broken trust, etc? Certainly.

    Obviously the party doesn’t care.

    • Wow. I have known this for a long time, but to see it in writing still shocks me! It sounds like something out of a George Orwell book!

    • Spot on – neither party is beholden to their members – good comment.

      If anyone didn’t catch it, there was a 3 hour booing session on day 1 of the DNC – that’s about the only satisfaction party members will get. Interestingly, there was a negotiation between Hillary’s & Bernie’s peeps on the length and content of the bitch session.

      Per the article: “The decision to schedule three hours of booing came after rancorous negotiations between the Clinton and Sanders camps, with the Clinton side originally offering half an hour of booing and the Sanders side demanding twenty hours.

      Reportedly, the Clinton camp also vetoed a demand by the Sanders camp that the definition of booing be expanded to include throwing things.”

      …between that and the video of stampeding New Yorkers chasing a digital figment in Central Park (Pokemon Go) – I have been having more “Is this real life?” moments lately.

      Reality again proves stranger than fiction.

      • *Correction: The New Yorker article that mentioned the negotiation between camp Bernie & camp Himlery didn’t happen – the article was satire. I didn’t catch it until just after I submitted my comment.

        The multi-hour booing session did open the DNC, but the article mentioned was humorous conjecture.

        Still wondering about the Pokemen chasers, though. Imagine trying to explain to someone in the first half of the last century that masses of people would be coaxed into moving in particular directions by little devices they carry around with them at all times.. not to produce anything, or accomplishing anything, really – just going where the device encourages for no reward except digital conjurings produced with 1s and 0s. Strange times we’re living in.

        Plus, downloading the game gives permissions to just about everything an app can get permission to. Tens of millions of people just handing over their private information without even thinking about it probably.
        “All your data are belong to us”

  8. about what you said: “Either people are angry because of the inconvenience they of the me-me-me generation being delayed 20-minutes by traffic”…. I disagree it is a 20 minute inconvenient delay.

    Just this summer, on a drive from Seattle to Blaine, there was a jumper on an I-5 overpass. I-5 was closed both directions that weekend morning (apparently, the cops had been ‘chasing’ this jumper for 2 hours before they got to the overpass)…anyway, traffic started slowing the closer we got to the overpass, and finally was at a standstill–we were 1.8 miles away. There was no signage or news about the reason, so like most passive people, we kept thinking “this has got to break here shortly”. Little did we know that ALL I-5 traffic was being diverted to the side streets of the small town.

    It took us nearly 2.5 hours to go 1.8 miles until we reached just the off-ramp (there were no other offramps). By that time I, a senior citizen, had to use the restroom SO SO badly, and with no cups or towels or bags in the car, I was ready to just squat in the middle of I-5 in front of everybody (there was no vegetation on the sides of the freeway to ‘hide’ me). It was very painful for me, and by the time we hit the side streets, I was, unfortunately, thinking very unkind thoughts about the jumper.

    Unfortunately, once off onto the sidestreets – roads that were not meant to handle volume traffic, it was clogged beyond belief. I was so desperate, I was willing to walk up to a strangers home and offer $100 if I could use their restroom. Fortunately, 15 minutes later, we found a city park, and although no restroom, it did have a grove of trees and shrubs! Relief!!!

    By the time we made it through the town streets to where we could get back on I-5, the backup both directions was nearly 10 miles long. Not knowing what the delay was caused by (lack of news), and thinking it would have to ‘break’ any moment and it couldn’t possibly be 10 miles long….

    And the iphone traffic apps didn’t start getting the info out until about 2 hours after the shut down – and they showed ‘slow down’….no reason why.

    Take away from story – if you ‘think’ you have to go to the bathroom, but believe you can make it ‘until we get to such and such’ – don’t wait. Go to the bathroom NOW because you have no idea what lies ahead.

    • There’s no reason that the media could not have reported that there was a “police action” on the bridge and that all traffic was stopped for an unknown time frame.

      That would have provided valuable information without having to deal with a “jumper problem”.

  9. George, you didn’t mention the “constant hammering” against segments of society by the Talk Radio Crowd ~ like Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and even the BLM group. I imagine the routine hammering of intolerance aimed at any segment of society takes a heavy toll.

    • That is, if you listen. Some of the most secure, stable people are those who turn off the media. The Amish. (yeah, I’ve posted many times about my neighbors here). If NYC burned to the ground, they would say “hmm, was there a problem somewhere?” Second to them may be older people who are not into technology. My mom who passed in 2012 had a rotary phone until about 2005, then got a push button because of her arthritis. Favorite show was Fox News (she lived a conservative life but didn’t weed out some of their manufactured stuff). Favorite radio shows were Rush Limbaugh. I hope she found them interesting in her final years.

      Turn away from the dark – the light is easier to see when you do.

      Maybe we should try to understand both sides and what they are all about. Then Vote Libertarian and kick them both to the curb.

  10. George, it is true that the vast majority of GGB jumpers do so from the city-side; in fact, I was living in SF during the period your friend was doing this research and I vaguely remember an article in THE SF CHRONICLE about it.

    Did you know that when a jumper goes over the side all traffic on the bridge is halted until the Coast Guard retrieves the body? I was 2/3 across one afternoon when it happened and it was pretty unsettling to realize why we were all immobile, even though the CG are very good at what they do and can usually retrieve the suicide within ten minutes or so of launching their boats. Of course, the bridge itself has cameras as well as trained spotters who constant monitor the span.

    Several years ago, a documentary called THE BRIDGE was released which involved a camera crew spending a full year [2004] with cameras trained on the bridge specifically to film jumpers going over the side, intercut with interviews of family members of the suicides; the filmmakers addressed mental health issues as well as civic responsibilities in suicide prevention. During the course of 2004, they filmed 23 actual suicides and prevented several more with a quick-alert system. Upon it’s release, they were vilified for this project from several groups while praised by others in their efforts.

    I’ve owned the DVD of THE BRIDGE since it’s release in 2006 and still have yet to watch the entire film… the tragedy of those people’s shattered lives is just too pervasive and recalls too vividly the day I was stuck in traffic on that beautiful structure.

  11. If the news of jumpers are suppressed, and bomb threats are suppressed, it’s a very short step to suppressing news of protests against the government or support/opposition for a political candidate. MSM, it has already been established what you are. Now you are just negotiating the price.

    Our good Mr. Ure was a disciple of Edward L. Bernays and didn’t even know it.

  12. In 1994 I was asked to give a lecture in Moscow to a group of Russian diplomats on how the U.S. had fairly successfully dealt with organized crime (OC). They were very concerned about what OC was doing to their society and, more importantly, about public fear of OC. They complained that the media was making a circus of each OC killing. My tongue-in-cheek suggestion: ban the minicam (there were no smartphones then!) I don’t think they took it.

    Justice Holmes said free speech did not include “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater.” The online media is doing precisely that; if one looks at deaths from terrorism in the USA and Europe, awful though they are, they are infinitesimal compared to ordinary homicides, diseases, accidents, and medical error. On one hand, the internet is anti-authoritarian and liberating; on the other it gives demagogues the tools they need.

  13. If I raised money from you on the basis of a false promise, would that not be fraud?

    In 1946 the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure were placed as a roadblock to prevent citizens from making presentments to a Grand Jury. In Texas
    Art. 20.09. DUTIES OF GRAND JURY. The grand jury shall inquire into all offenses liable to indictment of which any member may have knowledge, or of which they shall be informed by the attorney representing the State, or any other credible person.

    OR ANY CREDIBLE PERSON. Dear Readers…what Grand Jury presentments have YOU made to a Grand Jury member?

    • Art. 20.011. WHO MAY BE PRESENT IN GRAND JURY ROOM. (a) Only the following persons may be present in a grand jury room while the grand jury is conducting proceedings:

      (1) grand jurors;

      (2) bailiffs;

      (3) the attorney representing the state;

      (4) witnesses while being examined or when necessary to assist the attorney representing the state in examining other witnesses or presenting evidence to the grand jury;

      (5) interpreters, if necessary;

      (6) a stenographer or person operating an electronic recording device, as provided by Article 20.012; and

      (7) a person operating a video teleconferencing system for use under Article 20.151.

      (b) Only a grand juror may be in a grand jury room while the grand jury is deliberating.

    • Any government that can print fiat currency using the “good faith of” that country is itself performing a fraudulent act. Come on over my house and I will print you up some tradable “money”. The issue is people actually take it in exchange and trade it. Doesn’t mean it will be this way in 100 years. See Zimbabwe for more details. The only money is time. Time is exchangeable. Time plus value-added work is exchangable for money. The government does not work directly to create money – it uses rules and laws to create it. Just as fractional reserve banking prints money out of “multiplying deposits by a multiplication factor to allow for new loan creation – out of thin air”.

  14. Oftentimes I hear folks whine that the current administration doesn’t take ISIS seriously – on the run, have them contained, ‘refuses to say radical Islamic terrorist’.

    I think there may me some wisdom in using language to minimize rather than conflate the threat.