Monday, 28 July 2014

Let's be Frank

Hi all,

A quick post about my first published film review by Therapy Today magazine. It's on the fantastic film Frank, definitely worth a watch!

My review of Frank for Therapy Today


Monday, 7 July 2014

The Golden Gate Bridge and its tragic reputation

Hi all

Hope everyone is having a lovely Summer so far. Am on holiday this week, just at home in Richmond, but its lovely to have a break from the old routine.

One of things I've been getting up to this week is catching up on films... one of them being a documentary made in 2006 called The Bridge which centres on the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) in San Francisco. The film captures a whole year (2004) of the life of GGB focusing on the people who decide to visit in order to commit suicide. The GGB has become a morbid black spot for people wanting to kill themselves (a person jumped every 15 days during the 2004 shoot of the film and more than 1,400 people are known to have jumped since it was built).

As you can imagine the film is incredibly powerful and moving. It hits you right from the very opening scene where you see a man hovering by the side of the bridge contemplating his next move, then in a swift action, he pulls himself over the rails and jumps off into the water some 75 metres below. The film focuses on the stories of specific people who attempted or committed suicide that year, with interviews with their friends and family and the police officers who tried to talk them back from the edge.

There is one story in the film which was particularly moving to me. It the story of Kevin who jumped off the GGB in the year 2000. As soon as he jumped he realised he didn't want to die. He tried to move position during his fall but still suffered terrible injuries when he made it into the water. As he was trying to stay afloat in the water he felt something brush his legs and immediately thought the worse, a shark. However when the lifeguard arrived to assist, they told him that there was actually a black seal which was constantly circling him in order to keep him afloat, and in order to keep him alive. Kevin later attributed the seal's presence as a sign from God. Certainly for me, if feels that something spiritual was present in that vital connection between Kevin and the seal which ultimately saved Kevin's life.

In 2012, the shoes of 1,558 suicide victims were displayed as part of an awareness campaign

The film received mixed reviews upon its release with critics debating whether it was tactlessly morbid or remarkably sensitive. For me, it's a tough film to watch and it stays with you for a long time, but anything which allows the highly sensitive topic of suicide to be openly discussed, breaking that silence, can only be a positive.

I even struggled to know if writing this blog post would be appropriate and found myself putting off writing it for some weeks. But literally as soon as I saw The Bridge, the GGB TED talk popped up in my iTunes feed and then an article was in the paper at the weekend about the same topic and then I knew that I had to get writing.

Here's the trailer for The Bridge...

In addition an ex police officer who worked on the GGB has recently done a TED talk on the subject of suicide, which is also worth watching. This talk emphasises the importance of listening and giving space to those in their darkest moment when contemplating ending their life.  Here's the TED talk.

The architect of the GGB was reported as saying it was suicide proof back when it officially opened in 1937, time has proven that this has tragically not been the case. It was announced last week that the GGB is finally getting suicide-prevention safety nets, so hopefully there's hope that this amazing architectural structure can start to discard its dark reputation but alas not its tragic history.

Take care