"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 and looked in my rear-view mirror and 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 to ever see this person alive'. When I went into the tower and I talked to the highway patrolman, you know I asked him blatantly, I said 'is this a rare occurrence or does this happen often?' And he looked at me and kind of smiled and just said 'it happens all the time'."A touching, perceptive and sometimes unexpectedly beautiful documentary, concerning one of the few remaining taboos - that of suicide. Eric Steel interviews witnesses, friends and family members of 23 of the 24 people who chose to end their life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 2005. Not easy viewing, the film shows footage of the suicides themselves that is undeniably disturbing and difficult to watch. Much criticism was levied in the press at Steel suggesting that he was in someway culpable for those who died - the argument being that surely he should intervene and stop those shown from jumping. It's an argument that's difficult not to find some truth in from watching the film alone, but something that has been rectified by the DVD's liner notes, which features a Director's statement outlaying Steel's intentions and methods. In fact, the crew would call the authorities whenever they saw someone they believed could potentially be a 'jumper' near the railings and probably did prevent some people from (at least initially) committing suicide. But the manner in which the film was shot - from a long distance away from the bridge itself with telescopic lenses - meant the crew were rarely on the bridge itself and therefore had to rely on the authorities getting to those about to jump in time. And of the 24 people who ended their life, most did not hang around on the bridge for long, but very quickly, and shockingly easily, stepped over the railings and plunged to their deaths. Amongst many other things, Steel finds in his interviews with friends and family members reasons as to why so many people choose the Golden Gate Bridge to end their lives. "I think the bridge has a romance... a false romantic promise to it. Because he's dead. And he doesn't get to benefit from the romanticism of it... It romanticises him a bit in the legend, but he doesn't benefit from it. So what if his story has that at the end? He's gone. And so I think there's an empty promise; it's almost like when alcoholics talk about the romance of the bottle... maybe the first sip is really good, and everything else is hell... Maybe walking out there he had a romantic moment or two or an hour, but hitting the water can't be fun." Almost without exception, the interviewees are intelligent and articulate people and some of their testimonies are very, very moving. The insight contained in this film is invaluable, rare and honest. There's an extremely painful and truthful moment when a close friend of one of the people who jumped from the bridge declares that they wished they had done something more; "I made the mistake of giving him some space to recover, and that was a bad call I think... 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 wont respect their privacy. And I will not ever again not do something because I'm afraid they might be embarrassed." The bridge is shown from different perspectives: in close-up, from a field where young girls play soccer, in the distance as artists sketch and paint the powerful architecture. Contrasting the different shots, different reactions to the suicides are offered, showing the many different ways the actions of those who have died have affected those they have left behind. Some feel relief that those obviously in so much pain and depression now no longer have to struggle. Some are in denial; one family member hides behind religious beliefs and tries to justify his sister's suicide as an accident or a conspiracy. Many can't believe how a person could find the courage to take the step into something so final. Others are profoundly angry that they could do something they see as selfish. "I couldn't fully cry - the overwhelming emotion was anger. I was extremely pissed... I don't see any reason for people to do that. And Gene had people in this world that loved him. And he hurt them. If I see him again, that's what I wanna tell him. He hurt me. And I didn't think he would ever do that."The Bridge is undeniably bleak and sometimes depressing. Even the remarkable story of the young man who jumps and lives to tell his story doesn't really have a happy ending. Suffering from bipolar disorder, his friends walk on eggshells around him, his father doesn't seem to understand what he's going through, and his declaration that he wont try taking his own life again doesn't really convince. But there are moments of absolute beauty here too. The bridge itself of course is a stunning, iconic image, and the photography makes full use of this. There's hope in itself from understanding about mental illness and suicide, and the preciousness of life. The Bridge even proved to be a convincing polemic: in 2006 when it was shown a part of the Tribeca Film Festival, the authorities went ahead with a study into looking at providing a 'suicide barrier' (the construction of which is estimated to cost some $25 million); at present action has yet been taken. Investment was made into 'non-physical' suicide prevention in the mid 1990s by means of bicycle patrols, security cameras and phone lines, but the suicide rate shows no signs of decreasing and there are still around 25 to 30 suicides every year.