Placid Golden Gate Bridge from Ft. Baker

Preferred Suicide Destinations

Placid Golden Gate Bridge from Ft. BakerI find it incomprehensible that 50 people commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge every year. Security forces and passersby talk down from the ledge about another 100 people who are intent on killing themselves. This means that ever 2 to 3 days, someone attempts suicide from the bridge, and about every third person succeeds.

All told, in the bridge’s 77 year history, over 1,600 people are known to have committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate. The Coast Guard station that goes out to retrieve the bodies is just outside the view of this photo—to the right. Apparently one person (a young man) survived the jump; though, upon impact, much of his skeletal system was reduced to tiny pulverized pieces that severely damaged many of his internal organs.

Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge
Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge – Click for article

But as astounding as these tragic figures are, the Golden Gate Bridge is not the most popular bridge in the world from which to kill oneself. The most preferred suicide destination is located in China: the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. The Golden Gate is the world’s second preferred suicide destination.

So what in the world brings this to mind?

After 77 years an anti-suicide safety net system has been funded (to the tune of $76 million) to be installed on the Golden Gate Bridge. This steele–cable net will hang 20 feet beneath the east and west sides of the bridge and is intended to deter people from jumping and catch them if they do.

So why did it take 77 years to address this horrific problem, you ask? Apparently there has been a great deal of discussion about such a preventative measure marring the aesthetic appeal of the historic bridge structure.

I’m not sure when workers will begin the installation of the safety net. This all makes me wonder just how bad the problem of suicide is in the United States.