bit: bureau of inverse technology
presents the SUICIDE BOX
the following report produced by bureau operatives in San Francisco, assigned to
install and test new data acquisition equipment - SB17
this video contains suicide test footage and analytic data
The bureau is developing a motion analysis system
SUICIDE BOX - patent pending - a motion detecting video camera and digital
equipment installed in range of THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, San Francisco USA.
This vertical motion triggered device is designed to capture a video record
of all falls from the bridge. The resulting footage records as a continuous
sequence the trickle of people who jump off the bridge.
There are approximately 4-8 bodies retrieved per month by the coastguard.
Bureau observation estimates that up to 50% of falls go unnoticed by the
authorities - more information follows.
THE BRIDGE PROBLEM
San Francisco remains unchallenged as the premiere suicide destination
in the United States. The Golden Gate Bridge attracts visitors from as far away
Some statistics. 80% of bridge fatalities occur during the day, while 82% occur
from the bridge's east side facing the city.
In 1994 as part of a seismic retrofit the bridge was rigged with no less than
76 motion sensors to record violent ground shaking
in the event of an earthquake.
Certainly we are witnessing an explosion of electronic monitoring.
Since the bridge was completed in 1937 millions have been drawn the the
structure, strung elegantly 220 feet above the water.
An average of 17 people per year have jumped to their deaths from the span.
The first was H. C. Wobber, a 49-year-old bridge worker.
100 bridge deaths have been confirmed since 1992, the toll rising yearly.
The Building and Operations Committee last year rejected proposals
to install a taller barrier on the east side of the bridge and mount 8
"I think we've come to an engineering dead end" said bridge director Virginia
Simms, amidst concerns that building a higher safety barrier would mar the
aesthetics of the Bay Area's signature attraction and merely relocate the
Some lives are lost in low visibility. New crisis phones installed on the span
have received 6 calls but none of the callers wanted to be transferred to the
A USEFUL COMPARISON. 22500 PEOPLE DIE ANNUALLY IN HOME INCIDENTS, 7100 BY
FALLING. 3 PER 100 000 MANUFACTURING WORKERS DIE ON THE JOB, 10% FROM FALLS, 8%
FROM FALLS TO A LOWER LEVEL, 1% FROM FALLS TO THE DAME LEVEL. 8897 PEOPLE DIE
ANNUALLY FROM UNSPECIFIED FALLS
bit SUICIDE BOX trial activation GG2.3
Workers killed on the job lose a future average 5580 days production time.
Conversely the number of astronauts to have died from space since 1967 is 17.
The statistical data proves only marginally useful.
The last recorded suicide off the span was the 997th. Since that June 5 1995
death California Highway Patrol officials have stopped counting fearful that
publicity surrounding the milestone might trigger the next jump.
Newspaper reports of the 1000th death in July 1995 were dismissed by police as
"an approximation". "Nobody really knows for sure" said CHP spokesman Steve
Kohler. "We don't keep exact numbers". "We don't keep statistics" says the US
In addition to the jumps there were 72 reportable incidents last year alone
in which someone either threatened to jump or was taken in for wandering around
the bridge looking suspicious or despondent.
THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM
Length of bridge: 8940ft - Bridge speed limit: 45mph - Speeding Penalty: $160 -
Fall: 240ft - Duration: 4 seconds - Vertical velocity: 75mph - Impact:
substantial - Survivors: 26*
* this number counts only once Hannah Reich who survived the fall twice.
SUICIDE TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Suicide detection in low visibility is difficult and coupld compromise accuracy.
The bureau will incorporate neuromorphic sensors into this application to enable
night and low light suicide detection.
This experimental component consists of a focal plane array analogous to the
human retina and is capable of capturing scenes containing very dim and very
bright components such as the bridge at night.
The bureau is inclined not to lose count.
THE SEAGULL FACTOR
Excessive triggering caused by unanticipated seagull interference inititially
disabled the SUICIDE BOX in test deployment.
SBOX DATA TEST 1.71
This has been corrected with recalibration of the horizontal field sample
TRAGIC DATA IN THE INFORMATION AGE
Quarterly data captured by the box will be indexed to the Dow Industrial
Average. Inverse proportionality is predicted and may provide concrete measure
of civic morality and character in the population. Indexing the public
healthcare budget to the bit data is further expected to amplify the digital
The BIT SUICIDE BOX is available for your drastic application. The bureau
maintains rights to all data produced by the box.
Proceeds support bit research.
DISCLAIMER The bureau is an information agency servicing the Information Age.
The bureau records non-specific suicide and other data margins. The preceding
research project is ongoing. Further data and analysis provided to bureau
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