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Golden Gate Bridge turns 80 with plans for suicide prevention net

May 27, 2017 - UNITED STATES

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge turns 80 with long-sought funding for a suicide-prevention net finally secure. Perhaps because of its celebrated beauty, the bridge is one of the world's most notorious suicide spots.

The agreement for the US $200 million stainless steel net was signed on Apr 13.
Until it is in place, in 2021, bridge patrols will continue their suicide watch on the bridge.

The massive 4,200-foot orange-painted steel suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, the one-mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Thirty-nine people are reported to have jumped from the bridge to their death in 2016, and bridge patrols were able to prevent the suicides of an additional 200 people.

Estimates of the number of Golden Gate suicides since 1937 vary from 1,400 to just under 2,000. Robert Olson of the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, Canada, noted in People Magazine that the Golden Gate is a particularly lethal means of killing oneself: while the average survival rate of bridge suicide attempts is 15 per cent, the rate off the Golden Gate is just 4 per cent.

The stainless steel net will be positioned 20 feet down from the sidewalk and extend out another 20 feet. The structure will curve up slightly at its ends and be suspended 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean on both sides of the bridge.

Volunteers, called Bridgewatch Angels, walk the bridge looking for people who may be considering suicide. They look out for anyone alone on the bridge, standing or sitting in one spot for long periods of time, dishevelled-looking or wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather.

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge suicide watch with 'Angel' volunteers (SFGate 1 Jan 2016)

Golden Gate Bridge Facts

Man Who Survived Suicide Jump From Golden Gate Bridge Shares His Story to Help Others (People 19 Apr 2016)

The Urge to End It All (NYT 6 Jul 2008)

Construction to Start on Golden Gate Bridge Suicide-Prevention Net (NBC 13 Apr 2017)

Date written/update: 2017-04-14