Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

The bridge and its metaphors

Somebody jumped off our local bridge last week. We were walking along the river, as we do two or three times a week, when other hikers, explaining the low-flying chopper shooting through the canyon, said that someone saw a body in the water.

The next day I checked the paper and learned that the person had jumped from the Foresthill Bridge, which is more than 700 feet above the American River. Young people are always going out on the bridge’s girders to take awesome selfies, but that’s dangerous and illegal, and last year one girl fell but survived because she was still over land, fell fifty feet onto the hillside. This person must have been out in the middle and either fell or jumped – I guess nobody knows for sure. They haven’t recovered the body yet. Don’t know if it was a man or a woman, though I wonder if the family of a missing person knows the jumper is their loved one and doesn’t want to accept it yet.

It’s a beautiful spot, and I hate to think someone was in despair as they looked out over that canyon. You’d almost think the beauty of the place would reassure you that life is worth living as long as you can come to a place like this and take it in, breathe it. Depression doesn’t work like that though. Instead the beauty of the place must seem ironic, but you’re going to be tied to it forever now. You own it.

Last year they found a body in the woods nearby, but we haven’t heard who it was or what happened. A hiker found the remains not far from the trail.

I don’t know. This is happening all the time, all around the world, but it startles me when it happens in the place where I get so much peace and fulfillment.

[Photo by Nick Ares via Wiki Commons.]

18 comments on “The bridge and its metaphors

  1. Sha'Tara
    April 20, 2018

    A different take on the concept of burning one’s bridges.

  2. Manuela
    April 20, 2018

    Where I live, these stories don’t get written up in the papers anymore – people jumping off bridges or in front of the subway.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 20, 2018

      That’s like the Golden Gate Bridge in SF. They don’t report on those. We’re out in the country here, though, so I guess the numbers are so much lower they aren’t afraid of copycats.

      • Manuela
        April 20, 2018

        Interesting. And it does look very beautiful there.

  3. Robert Parker
    April 20, 2018

    That’s some bridge, the engineers must have had a blast doing that one.
    Obviously not a “solution,” but I’ve read in several places, that suicide-prevention fencing and nets do have some value. The bridges at Cornell University have had an exaggerated reputation (I think the U is actually below-average for college suicides) but they’ve installed nets, and apparently some folks who’ve come close to taking the step, have said it was a factor in dissuading them.
    Have the suicide, and the body found by hikers, altered your feelings about the canyon?

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 20, 2018

      Yes, that bridge is so high because it was designed to go over a lake, but the dam was never built. It’s a pretty awesome sight.

      Maybe I’m fooling myself, but my own feelings for the area aren’t changed. I guess the canyon is something different to different people. Like most things, I suppose.

      • Robert Parker
        April 20, 2018

        There’s roads around home, that are winding/loose gravel/no shoulder/etc. – – fun to drive on, and pretty, with wooded ravines. Sometimes there are little crosses & plastic flowers next to the road, where someone went off and hit a tree, and you feel sympathy for whoever made the little shrine, but I still like driving down those roads.

      • Kevin Brennan
        April 20, 2018

        I always thought there could be an interesting photo book about those shrines. Maybe there is one …

  4. John W. Howell
    April 20, 2018

    Just looking at the bridge gives me the willies.

  5. kingmidget
    April 20, 2018

    “beauty of the place would reassure you that life is worth living as long as you can”

    This is why I need to get out into the natural world when I can. Not that I’m going to jump, but still, seeing the river or the ocean or mountains stretching to the sky, both captivates and reassures. It also challenges.

    As for the last part … about the body discovered nearby last year. There was a report about that body, coverage in the Sac Bee. I forget the exactly narrative, but it was a bit odd. I’ll have to try to find the story.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 20, 2018

      Thanks for the tip in the Sacbee. I looked it up. Hadn’t heard about that, but it fits the kind of scenario we had imagined. A little weird because it’s not all that remote up there. Plenty of traffic on that road, and hikers and bikers galore on the trail. I guess he panicked.

  6. 1WriteWay
    April 21, 2018

    Assuming the person decided to commit suicide, perhaps he wanted to do it in a beautiful place. Many years ago, my husband and I were visiting Mono Lake and were hiking around Black Point. I found a nice spot to situate myself and watched the sun set. I thought to myself, “If this were the last thing I’d see, I’d die happy.” Not to be morbid (although I tend to be), perhaps the person wanted the thing he saw to be a beautiful, natural thing. It’s sad that anyone would desire to cut his life, worse to think it might have been an accident.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 21, 2018

      I’ve been to quite a few spots where I said something like that. Not suicidally, of course, but just, What a way to check out.

      I do hope it wasn’t an accident, but if you saw some of the pics they’re taking up there, you’d see how easy it would be to fall.

      • 1WriteWay
        April 22, 2018

        That photo you shared was enough to give me vertigo.

      • Kevin Brennan
        April 22, 2018

        I’ll let you know what it’s like when we finally walk (run!) across it!

      • 1WriteWay
        April 25, 2018


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