Residents honor a beloved local and revisit the conundrum of suicide

“A man who carried a ladder to the side of the Foresthill Bridge to scale a fence and jump to his death was identified Thursday by authorities,” as the Auburn Journal is reporting.

“The man’s death took place late Tuesday at the 530-foot-high span, which is California’s highest bridge. . . . By the time deputies arrived, the man had jumped.

“Daniel Brooks 56, of Gold River, was identified by the Sheriff’s Office as the decedent. His body was found on the Auburn side of the canyon in the Auburn State Recreation Area by state Parks Department searchers. Brooks had used the ladder to scale a 6½-foot high fence along the bridge walkway.”

There has been an outpouring of emotions — sadness, grief, love, and sympathy — on Facebook as people have been learning about Daniel’s death, as he was a native and longtime local whom many loved and admired. I learned about this tragedy earlier this week from a friend whose mom knew Daniel for years and shared those feelings.

I posted some of Daniel’s artwork on Facebook, as well as a YouTube interview. Daniel’s origami artwork had been shown around town, at the Nevada City Winery, for example. He once had a shop on Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley.

The overwhelming response shows the power of social media to “connect.” There were hundreds of thoughtful comments, anecdotes, and photos.

“Feel so much in a funk — a sad week for Nevada County,” Debbie Lange wrote on Facebook, referring to the passing of several beloved locals.

“Taking an extra moment to admire Daniel Brooks’ work,” wrote Neil Sarchett, posting some of Daniel’s artwork.  “Rest In Peace, Daniel. You were a gentle and generous soul.”

“He was such a beautiful person,” said Valerie Moberg. ” I will miss his creative spirit and the love he expressed to all,” said Eileen Blodgett.

Others pointed to the conundrum of suicide: “If only he were here to see all the love (being expressed),” wrote another.

These feelings are not new, and our towns have collectively felt the pain of other locals who have taken their own lives. “The MB2 Foundation was started as a way to bring suicide awareness to other people who are suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide. Each year they host the ‘Turkey Trot’, a 5 and 10K run to raise money to support other non-profits in the area with the same goal,” as Anew Day’s website reads.

The nation explored the conundrum of suicide when comedian Robin Williams took his own life. As USA Today reported: “The fact that someone as successful as Williams could kill himself shows that suicide is ‘not about objective markers of happiness and success,’ said Dost Ongur, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and chief of the psychotic disorders division at McLean Hospital outside of Boston.”

Here are some resources on suicide and suicide prevention:

The Mayo Clinic

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center

The YouTube video about Daniel is here: