A “friend for life” has been campaigning for years, along with others, to make a California landmark safer. John Blackstone has her story:
On a stage in Nashville, songwriter Sarah Lockwood Barr performs songs she’s written that she loves to sing … and one that breaks her heart.
“This is for Casey Brooks, who would have turned 27 this past May,” she announced, before playing “Starting Over”:
All the world’s gone to sleep tonight.
But you won’t wake.
All the world cries for you tonight.
But you can’t see.
She and Casey grew up, she says, in a comfortable California town just north of San Francisco. “We learned to ride bikes together,” Lockwood Barr said.
Senior year of high school was almost over, and they were ready to go off to college. But shortly before graduating, in January 2008, “Casey jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and ended her life,” Lockwood Barr said.
“And you had no idea?” Blackstone asked.
“Nobody did. She was already accepted into college. She was a really talented writer. She had a good crew of friends. There was no reason, as far as we could tell.
“And it was really easy for her. There’s a parking lot right at the base of the bridge. The guardrail’s only four feet high. So you can just kind of pretend you’re walking across the bridge and hop over. And it’s a 220-foot fall. And that’s it.”
Casey’s father, John Brooks, told Blackstone, “Every time we drive over the bridge, every time we look at the people laughing and smiling and taking selfies of themselves and enjoying this, that’s what we used to do. And then, you know, Casey jumped, and it all changed.”
The beautiful landmark at the entrance to San Francisco Bay has an ugly side. Casey Brooks is one of nearly 1,700 suicides on the bridge since its opening in 1938. Last year, 39 people jumped from the bridge.
But that toll may be coming to an end.
For years Brooks’ parents, John and Erika, and Sarah Lockwood Barr have been striving with others who lost love ones on the bridge to convince the bridge board to erect a net — a suicide barrier.
“So I really hope that the board puts safety ahead of inconvenience,”…