“Suicide Barrier” to Prevent Golden Gate Jumpers
77 years after opening, the Golden Gate Bridge will finally be given a structure to prevent suicides on the bridge. The bridge has the highest number of suicides of any structure in the world, with about two dozen successful and 80 attempted suicides each year- resulting in 1,500 deaths since the bridge opened, this decision seems long overdue.
The suicide barrier will consist of a net of stainless steel cable extending 20 feet below and 20 feet out from the bridge. A similar net was constructed in Switzerland, and the number of suicide attempts from the structure in question fell to zero.
While the net will obviously not prevent all suicides, research indicates that a significant number of lives could be saved by the barrier. Historically, 90 percent of individuals pulled from the bridge during a suicide attempt do not go on to commit suicide later.
Discussions for a barrier have been taking place for decades, but have consistently been shelved or deemed a bad fit for the bridge.
The project is estimated to cost $76 million. The Golden Gate Bridge district Board of Directors moved to approve $20 million in funding. The rest of the expense, which has not yet been approved by the agencies in question, consists of $22 million from Caltrans, $27 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and $7 million from the state.
While advocates and families of suicide victims consider the approval a huge success, it seems that others in the community feel funds should be diverted elsewhere. Comments range from calling the spending a "stupid waste of public money" to suggesting that the funds instead be used to build a center divider on the bridge.
Despite these negative comments, there seems to be significant support for the barrier, which will hopefully produce a noticeable impact on suicide statistics in the area.
If funding is approved, the contract for the work would go out at the end of this year, and complete installation is expected by 2018.