The Golden Gate Bridge Will Soon Get a Suicide Net Add-On

After record suicide numbers last year, the city will vote in May whether or not to install the net

Photo: Christian Mehlführer

Last year, a record 46 people jumped to their deaths from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and another 118 were stopped from doing so by passerby or bridge workers, reports The New York Times. "That is a suicide or an attempt almost every other day at what is the most popular suicide spot in the nation, and among the most popular in the world," the Times writes.  

Now, the city is considering plans to install a permanent net to catch would-be suicides. In the past, San Francisco dismissed such ideas, but because of the growing number of fatalities and attempted suicides, it seems like the project has finally got a good shot at going through. Here's the Times on how the net would work: 

The plan calls for a $66 million stainless-steel net system 20 feet below the sidewalk. Over the years, much concern has been expressed about marring the bridge’s beauty; the barrier will be invisible from most angles. Many critics continue to assert that suicidal people will always find another way. Experts who have appeared before the board explained that the suicidal impulse is typically fleeting.

A study conducted in 1978, for example, followed up on 515 people who had tried to commit suicide between 1937 and 1971 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but were stopped. Of those people, 90 percent were still alive in 1978. The study concludes: 

The major hypothesis under test, that Golden Gate Bridge attempters will surely and inexorably “just go someplace else,” is clearly unsupported by the data. Instead, the findings confirm previous observations that suicidal behavior is crisis-oriented and acute in nature. Accordingly, the justification for prevention and intervention such as building a suicide prevention barrier is warranted and the prognosis for suicide attempters is, on balance, relatively hopeful.

Now, more than 30 years after that statement was published, it seems that the prevention barrier will finally be erected. Officials will vote on the matter in May, the Times reports, and are expected to approve the net. 

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