Golden Gate Bridge Gets a Safety Net

The Bridge of Death, and What's Being Done About it

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Heather Gammon

The Golden Gate Bridge towers above all, its great allure a vast threat to jumpers.

Heather Gammon

If you could stop someone from attempting suicide, would you do it? That’s the question San Franciscan officials have answered with a fervent yes.

 

Described by the poet Henry May as, “a curve of soaring steel, graceful and confident over infinity,” the Golden Gate Bridge certainly has it’s appeal. Spanning the entrance of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate is a man-made marvel of engineering ingenuity. Painted in international orange, the Golden Gate Bridge is a world-renowned tourist destination, with millions flocking to San Francisco just to see this famous California icon.

 

Picturesque they may be, these gates of paradise hold dark secrets. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has the highest number of suicides in the US, with an estimated 1,400 jumpers thus far. In 2013, a record of 46 suicides were recorded, the highest number since its conception in 1937. Also, it is said that a suicide occurs every 15 days. Oblivious tourists sometimes watch in horror as they witness the death of a jumper. But more often than not, jumpers go unseen, leading to speculation as to the real number of suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

The terrifying 220 foot fall, equivalent to 22 stories, takes only four second before plunging into the dark torrent of waters below at a speed of 75 miles/hour. With a 98% fatality rate of jumping, the majority die from tremendous impact or die an icy death of hypothermia. And as of 2013, only 34 people are known to have survived.

 

With such macabre tales surrounding their beloved bridge, San Franciscan residents have moved to do something about it. On Friday, June 27, the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District approved a plan for installation of a steel net intended to deter people from leaping.

 

The plan approved by the board includes the $76 million funding necessary for construction. Building this life-saving contraption has been delayed many years due to funding complications. In California, a state perpetually strapped for cash, this plan was only made possible when the US president Barack Obama signed a law making safety barriers and nets for bridges eligible for federal funds. From these federal funds, $49 million will supply the Golden Gate Bridge project. In addition, $20 million made from tolls from various bridge district reserves will be utilized. This leaves a mere $7 million for the populous state of California to fund.

 

With a 2018 completion date projected, the city of San Francisco has a full 4 years of construction ahead.