Suicides tarnish the Golden Gate ; Filmed deaths renew debate over barriers on landmark
The disclosure this month of [Eric Steel]'s project stunned park and bridge officials. Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the agency that runs the bridge, has accused Steel of misrepresenting himself. The project also has sparked a debate over whether the film, if it is shown, will trigger copycats and whether, after years of study and opposition, it's time to erect a suicide barrier on the bridge.
Steel's filming has focused attention on other suicide magnets such as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, where suicides are rare since barriers went up years ago. North America's No. 2 suicide draw, Toronto's Prince Edward Viaduct, built a multimillion-dollar barrier in 2003 after more than 400 suicides.
In a letter to bridge officials, Steel said he filmed "most of the two dozen or so" suicides that occurred. One likely was that of David Paige, 49, who jumped April 28. Steel talked to his family, including a cousin, Diane Pfoertner of Ortonville, Mich., who says she has no problem with Steel's documentary. "I felt that if somewhere down the line it would do somebody some good, it was worth putting some energy into," Pfoertner says.
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