“The Golden Gate Bridge was born a metaphor….The span would connect San Francisco with Marin County, engineering with nature, and the past with the future”—and, for a queasily high number of people, life with death.

For Guernica, Candace Opper looks at the history of the legendary bridge’s suicidal jumpers, including interviews with the people who, against all odds, survived the fall.

She aims to deromanticize the leap, pointing out that romance “allows us to ignore the ugly truth of mental illness,” but it seems impossible to ever really completely remove the symbolism from one of the world’s most ostentatious symbols.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →