Even if they approve a barrier, how long until it is installed? My guess: July 2018
Last year was a record: 46 people plunged to their deaths from the majestic orange bridge. Bridge workers stopped 118 others. 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.
Unlike the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Golden Gate lacks a suicide barrier.
For 60 years, the directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, reflecting the live-and-let-live ethos that animates this city, never agreed to build a barrier. Now, with the numbers of suicides rising — the country has more annually than traffic fatalities — and the ages of those jumping here declining, they are moving forward.
As early as late May, the directors are expected to reverse longstanding policy and vote in favor of using toll money in addition to federal and state funds for a suicide barrier.
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.
In a 1978 study, “Where Are They Now?” Richard H. Seiden, a former professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, looked at the question of whether someone prevented from committing suicide in one place would go somewhere else. He studied people who attempted suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge from 1937 to 1971 and found that more than 90 percent were still alive in 1978.
Suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge are trending younger.
Until recently, the largest group of Golden Gate Bridge suicides was ages 35 to 45, said Capt. Lisa Locati of the Golden Gate Bridge, who oversees bridge security. “Now, it’s 20- to 30-year-olds,” she said.