Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Net To Save Lives, Prevent Nearly 1,700 Death Toll Stat From Rising

After years of wrangling between government officials and crusaders, the Golden Gate Bridge is getting a suicide net. Proponents say the move to prevent deaths from suicidal persons is a long time coming, but the move is better late than never at all, according to a new report.

Since the opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge on May 27, 1937 (via History), nearly 1,700 people have committed suicide. According to a CBS News report, 39 people jumped 220 feet to their deaths just last year.

For years, activists and survivors of suicide victims have lobbied legislators to appropriate money to install a suicide net on the iconic orange suspension bridge. Officials approved subsidies in 2006 to install a stainless steel barrier at the bridge site as a deterrent.

Opponents argued that installation of a suicide barrier or net would detract from its iconic mystique in a manner similar to tampering with the image of a famous Leonardo da Vinci painting.

John Brooks is the father of Casey Brooks, who would have turned 27 last May. Casey committed suicide in 2008 after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Mr. Brooks attended a ceremony recently at the site of the California landmark. There, he celebrated the approval of the barrier to help prevent others from taking their lives.

“There were people who believed that this bridge cannot be touched. It’s an iconic structure. It’s sort of like the Mona Lisa — you can’t touch the Mona Lisa. So there was an aesthetic issue.”

Casey’s death came as a surprise to all those who knew the then-high school student with a promising career. According to her father and friends, she signaled no outward signs of depression and thoughts of suicide.

“Every time we drive over the bridge, every time we look at the people laughing and smiling and taking selfies of themselves and enjoying this, that’s what we used to do. And then, you know, Casey jumped, and it all changed,” said Mr. Brooks.

Earlier reports show that the apparent pushback from officials over the years has been due to a lack of belief in the benefit of affixing a suicide net on the Golden Gate Bridge. In a collaborative study in 1978, researchers provided remarkable evidence in support of a net: Of the 515 failed suicide attempts from the bridge that year, about 90 percent of the people were still alive years later and had not made further attempts on their lives. Still, officials were slow to implement construction of a safety net.

In April, CNN reported that funding of the $211 million bridge project comes from a number of sources: private donations, state mental health provisions, Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District. The suicide safety net will span the perimeter of the iconic bridge and serve another purpose: to send a message to those with suicidal ideation that “others care.”

Construction completion for the Golden Gate Bridge suicide net is slated for 2021.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours daily for you or someone you know who has suicidal thoughts. The toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK [8255].

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