Beyond Claycord – Golden Gate Bridge Board to Consider Suicide Barrier Funding

June 24, 2014 13:03 pm · 28 comments

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District has lined up funding for a suicide barrier on the bridge, bridge district officials said.

The district’s board of directors will consider approving the $76 million funding plan Friday morning. The goal is to have the barrier, a net beneath the bridge, in place in 2018.

The funding plan includes $22 million of federal Local Highway Bridge Program money programmed by Caltrans, $27 million from federal Surface Transportation Program funds programmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, $7 million from California Mental Health Service Act funds and $20 million from the district’s reserves.

In 2013, 46 people died jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

District general manager Denis Mulligan said the bridge district staff’s opinion is that “construction of the suicide deterrent simply is the right thing to do at this time.”

The district selected the net system suicide barrier alternative in February 2010.

AClaycordian June 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM

If someone wants to kill themselves, then they should be able to do so. Jumping off the bridge seems an effective way to do that, without endangering others. Take away that option and we might see an increase in suicides involving others. Suicide by forcing a police officer to do it for you comes to mind.

Sad but true June 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

when people decide to take their own lives, nothing will stop them.

Spending that much money under the pretense of saving lives is a disservice. 46 lives won’t be saved, they will just die somewhere else.

a June 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM

So fcking stupid.

Pyrrhus June 24, 2014 at 1:50 PM

I think a better idea would be to invest the money into mental health care to try to help those with suicidal thoughts. If we want to help at the bridge, perhaps hire or find volunteers that are trained to deal with suicide crisis and have them there to talk down jumpers. All it takes is for one person to care and show concern to stop someone from jumping. There is a short documentary on Aokigahara “Suicide Forest” in Japan which focuses on a man that wanders the forest trying to help those that are thinking about committing suicide.

The Realist June 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Umm, don’t they consider this all the time?
Maybe spend that 76 million on mental health care system?
People who are mentally ill or sufffering from depression will find a way like others have said.
Step in front of a Muni or jump off the B.A.R.T. platform? Inconveniencing or traumatizing literally dozens of people!
Not to sound uncaring but jumping for the bridge is efficient, they will splat on a tanker, barge, the water or
a sail boat captain… and nobody likes those douchebags.

RIII June 24, 2014 at 1:54 PM

But wait, how about all of the other bridges in the area? If someone has the idea that suicide is the solution to their problems, isn’t one bridge as good as another? People will find a way and if one bridge has a barrier, they may consider another. Many people use another method to accomplish their suicide goals and if a bridge isn’t available, I’m sure they will find another way. However, there is nothing as easy to spend as someone else’s money. Be it Federal funding, Caltrans money, or any other source, its money from the public and I have never seen this come up for a vote.

Jojo Potato June 24, 2014 at 2:02 PM

If they want a barrier, then the Bridge District should pay for it. They are not part of the state highway system and are very proud of that fact. So no state money for them. And when I voted for mental health care I didn’t mean for a barrier. Let people jump. When I lived right near the GGB I had wondered about calling for a taxi and asking for the “one way” fare to the bridge, never did of course. One promise I made to myself long ago was never to kill myself, no matter what happens.

jeninreality June 24, 2014 at 2:16 PM

I agree with @Sad but true. The gesture is appreciated however the issue runs much deeper than creating a barrier on a landmark in CA. It would be nice to see that kind of $$$ go into developing programs that could assist the mentally ill. I know, easier said than done.

Anonymous June 24, 2014 at 2:37 PM

More suicides on the Bay Bridge then the Golden Gate.thats a fact, Jack.

Julio June 24, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Unfortunately the reason this has finally been decided on is the child of one of the directors committed suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge a few weeks ago.

All of a sudden after so many years bam! we have the net.

Labelle June 24, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Let the fool who wants to jump off a bridge do it. Who is to say who stops him.

Labelle June 24, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Talking to yourself helps… 🙂

Antler June 24, 2014 at 2:52 PM

ALL of the points made above, plus……

Cue a very long line of daffy thrill seekers just wanting to “fly to the net” for kicks. Heck, might as well have a ticket booth and charge the net jumpers! Will they also pay for parking lots at each end of the bridge for the hordes of net gamers” ?

Don June 24, 2014 at 2:59 PM

So when the people jump from the bridge and land in the nets, then roll/climb to the edge of the net and then jump from there. What good did all that funding do? What a joke! Install a diving board and just be done with it!

The Mamba June 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

What’s to stop someone determined from jumping down to the net and then jumping from there? I think the sentiment is nice but the practicality is lacking. Behind all this is a money grab, GGBB trying to get that federal and state money and an excuse to raise tolls again.

Marianne June 24, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Don, you just make too much sense. and it’s funny. 🙂

anon June 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM

My cousin jumped from the Bay Bridge years ago. I see Bay Bridge suicides increasing greatly, especially since anyone can walk out on the new span.
Suicide is horrible, no argument there, but like others have stated, it would make more sense to invest that money in mental health programs.

No New Taxes June 24, 2014 at 4:26 PM

No more taxing the people, no new taxes.

Sad but true June 24, 2014 at 4:50 PM

The diving board is a good idea. People should have to pay a fee to use it though….

Nothing else is free in the GGD.

RANDOM TASK June 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Well obviously with the millions in surplus from removing the toll takers and abundance of fines for toll violations reported 6 weeks after they removed the toll takers …this is a great way to blow off some millions and fleece more for their pockets after cost and time over runs ….should bring a tidy profit for cal trans and the unions ….same game different name

Magic Fix June 24, 2014 at 7:12 PM

How wonderful that in the perfect utopian world that is CA all that needs to be done to stop persons in acute mental pain from ending their lives is to build a “suicide barrier”.

What about taking the money and put it towards destigmatizing the mindset that a person with mental illness is somehow weak, bad or unworthy.

If you are in pain because of a broken bone you and others would think it unusual if you did not seek medical treatment.

Putting up a physical barrier means they will merely find another way to cure that mental pain, like walking in front of a train. State’s overall suicide rate probably won’t go down but the Golden Gate Bridge district’s board of directors will have bragging rights and that’s about all.

That $76 million could reduce state’s suicide rate if used for education and outreach, but then politicians wouldn’t get their names on a metal plague and they wouldn’t get free face time on TV.

waverunner June 24, 2014 at 7:21 PM

This is a ridiculous waste of money and could be better used toward mental health issues. If people want to take their lives, unfortunately they will find a way somewhere else. This is only a stop-gap treatment for the real issues in life.

KenInConcord June 24, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Millions and Millions for nets??

This will benefit the very few people that were smart enough to find a way over the railing along the sidewalk,

Yet are NOT smart enough to find their way to the edge of the net.

So how many lives will it really save?

Connie Dobbs June 24, 2014 at 8:37 PM

I thought everyone was just ecstatic about living in The Best Place on Earth.

Nostradamus June 24, 2014 at 9:44 PM

And a little later, after jumping in front of a BART train becomes popular, they will erect protective barriers on the platforms, with sliding doors that match up to the train’s doors, like an elevator.

Ya'll watch this June 25, 2014 at 5:40 AM

How about we just ban bay area bridges? That would solve this problem of people jumping from them! Right?

MrDioji June 25, 2014 at 6:35 AM

While that is a lot of money that could be better used elsewhere, I just wanted to make a couple of points.

They already have people with suicide prevention training patrolling the bridge. There was a good “KQED Forum” on the topic a few months back.

People would not necessarily just go somewhere else to kill themselves. Jumping off a bride – especially the GG – is a lot different from jumping in front of a train. And it’s certainly different from suicide by police. Some people are only able get up enough gumption to jump from the GG Bridge, while other methods aren’t as iconic or are just more daunting. I think many would just move to the Bay Bridge though. It is a marvel, despite everyone’s complaining.

Kirkwood June 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Saw the story on the suicide prevention system on the bridge. The “net” is actually chain link fencing located far enough down that a jumper would be seriously injured landing on it. That aspect is the deterrent, it prevents a quick, painless, irreversible end, thus causing the would-be jumper to reconsider. Statistics from it’s use elsewhere indicates it is very effective. Also the system is only visible when viewed up close.

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