Jan 11, 2024 - News

Golden Gate Bridge suicide prevention barrier is complete

A view of the suicide safety net in November 2023. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A barrier designed to save lives at the Golden Gate Bridge is now fully installed across the 1.7-mile span, a decade after it was first approved.

The big picture: Over the last 20 years, there have been an average of 30 confirmed suicides annually at the Golden Gate Bridge, spokesperson Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz told Axios.

  • The project was first approved in 2014, with work beginning in 2018.
  • Construction delays pushed the completion date of the $224 million project from 2021 to early this year, Cosulich-Schwartz said.

What they're saying: Prior to its full completion, the net was "already working as intended to save lives and deter people from coming to the bridge to harm themselves," he said.

  • Last year, while the barrier was still under construction, there was a below-average 14 confirmed suicides, Cosulich-Schwartz said.
  • "And we expect and hope with the net complete that that number will go down even more in years to come," he added, potentially saving dozens of lives annually.

Zoom in: The majority of the barrier consists of a net and the rest has vertical fencing in place.

  • The net is made of steel with the intent to deter people from jumping, Cosulich-Schwartz said.
  • "Research into people who come to the bridge to harm themselves shows that they are often overwhelmed by pain and are looking to escape it," he said. "So the net works by interrupting a thought process."

Of note: If someone does jump, bridge officials work with fire departments and law enforcement agencies to respond to net rescues promptly.

Between the lines: The suicide prevention barrier took decades of advocacy from families who lost loved ones at the Golden Gate Bridge, The Guardian reports.

  • The Bridge Rail Foundation, founded in 2006, initially pushed to raise the height of the Golden Gate Bridge's railing but later advocated for a net.

Ken Holmes, part of the Bridge Rail Foundation, told The Guardian he's happy to see that the barrier is complete.

  • "I also understand that this is a deterrent and it's not going to be the end of all barriers, but certainly it will deter most people from even going to the bridge," he said. "And that has been our goal all along."

What's next: While the barrier is complete, contractors still need to replace the traveler system below the bridge that's used for inspections.

  • Once that's done, the plan is to remove the vertical railing and install the net in those areas. That work is expected to last into 2027.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Ayuda disponible en español.

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