Research Blues

Conducting research for my book is necessary, in order to substantiate my points of view and gather needed statistics. Last night, as I scanned the Internet for the number of annual suicides by way of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, I was overcome with emotion. I learned that, on average, 12 people a year die here. I should also mention that this bridge is very familiar to me. I drive over it 10 times a week… twice a day, to and from work. One of the articles that shook me up was this one…


I understand that the writer was going for drama and shock value. But sections of this story were very difficult to read… specifically the part about the jackass who started jumperpool.com (which, by the way, I refuse to visit). Learning that most don’t die a quick death when they jump and reading the count down until the moment the individual hits the water was also hard to stomach. In addition, I was amazed to discover the overwhelming number of derogatory comments posted to this story. I burst into tears, after briefly scanning the hateful words submitted by readers. It probably didn’t help matters that I was conducting this research on Brad’s birthday. He would have been 31 yesterday.

The quote by Forensic Psychologist Jerald Ratner also got under my skin. Is it possible that even our psychologists and psychiatrists don’t understand what it’s like to be depressed? And why must people pass judgement and make jokes about suicide? These are two of the questions that I’m tackling right now as I write my book.

The following video, while heartbreaking, sheds a more realistic and compassionate light on the Sunshine Skyway suicides. My heart goes out to the family featured here. I recently had the pleasure of meeting David Braughton, CEO of the Tampa Bay Crisis Center (who’s interviewed towards the end of the story)… He is a good-hearted man with an important message:


I had to take a break from my work because it got too emotional last night… and that’s OK. I’m learning to be patient with myself as I write. I hoop danced, got some fresh air, played with my dog, and had a glass of wine. I also prepared a nice dinner. My research is difficult but necessary. Even though it hurts, I am pleased with the progress I’m making. I’m also proud of myself for recognizing the need to take breaks, for my own mental health. Tonight is yoga night. Balance is key.


  • lauren

    yes, balance is key. you are taking the time to listen to your heart in this entire process. good for you, girl.

    people mock what they don't understand…it places distance between them and the thing they are afraid of. if they refuse to accept it into their realities, it means they are immune from "being like that". it's a weird identity/ego thing… but i really do believe it's rooted in fear.

  • Anonymous

    You are an inspiration and "light" to those that have the honor of knowing you. I am so grateful for your message of hope. Thank you for your honesty and your spirit!
    -Marilyn CCTB

  • Brandi

    I really enjoy reading about your journey in writing this book!

    I struggle with depression, and it's rampant in my family. I find your message of hope to be very inspirational. Thank you for reminding me about the need for balance; I forget it too quickly!

    And…I love your hoop dance class! 🙂

  • Jen Anderson

    Hi Abby~

    I just started reading your blog, I'm really enjoying it and am looking forward to your book.

    I have struggled with depression on and off for yours, so I get it.

    I do have to say though, that while the quote from Dr. Ratner was maybe a little weird, I think what he meant is that maybe people who specifically choose to jump off bridges vs. some other more private way of ending their lives, are choosing to be a little more dramatic about it and know that someone could see the, try to stop them, etc.

    We have talked about this form of suicide in many of my psych classes and this kind of question has come up. There are so many different ways and reasons that people choose the way to go and they often say alot about what is truly going on.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!


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