Legislation to Install Suicide Net Below Golden Gate Bridge
May 23, 2014
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Suicide is a tacit problem in society; it is existent and many are aware of it, but it remains unspoken.
On the Golden Gate Bridge alone, there have been 1,600 suicides since its construction in 1937, 46 of them occurring in the past year, and 10 in August, which is the highest report of suicides in a single month to date. This is the highest number of suicides to occur at a geographical location in all of history, and it remains the second-most common suicide site in the world.
According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), for people between the ages of 15 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Eve Meyer, the executive director at San Francisco Suicide Prevention, describes suicide as an impulsive, permanent decision that is made to solve something temporary and says that “we must realize that just because someone is not bleeding and they do not have bandages, does not mean they do not hurt just as much.” This pain can become unbearable, and if the means of committing suicide are easily accessible, people are more likely to take advantage of that.
For 75 years the Golden Gate Bridge has been a popular location for depressed individuals to take their lives, and for the past 25 years, the city has been trying to figure out a solution to eliminate this danger.
Within this span of time, administrators of the bridge appointed by the counties have tried to convert telephones for car breakdowns into crisis phones, accompanied by signs on the bridge that read “If you are in pain, please pick up the phone,” and they have assisted families of suicide victims in communicating with their loved ones on the bridge to make it more safe.
The final solution was to construct a suicide net underneath the bridge. At first, this proposal was denied because “it would block the view of the city.” After several years however, the blueprints of the suicide net were redesigned to satisfy city complaints.
In 2008, Golden Gate Officials approved the legislation, enforcing the construction of a suicide net underneath the bridge, but they did not approve the funding for the net.
As of now, organizations and families of suicide victims are attempting to raise enough money to implement the suicide net because similarly to Meyer, they are “willing to bet that the suicide rate would decrease drastically with its installation.”
Individuals who are not in support of the suicide net, claim that “if someone really wants to kill themselves, they will find a way to do it.” This statement is invalid. The Los Angeles Times states that “research shows most suicidal people fixate on one means of death. If that means is not available to them, they do not choose another means. They choose life.” Additionally, nearly all of the suicide survivors from the Golden Gate Bridge said “it was the Golden Gate Bridge or nothing. There was no plan B.” A UC Berkeley professor later tracked 515 people who were stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, to discover that 94% of them either were still alive or had died from causes other than suicide.
Besides the addition of communal suicide prevention tactics, as an individual, anyone can help prevent suicide. The first step is public awareness. In many societies, the topic of suicide is treated as almost taboo. This is mostly because it is difficult for most people to understand the urge to take one’s own life.
The most important step in suicide prevention is to convey to others that they are important and people do care about them. Meyer claims that “it is important to view yourself as a critical factor in saving lives because we all can be.”
If you or someone you know is in pain, considering suicide, or just in in need of someone to talk to, please call:
San Francisco Suicide Prevention – (415) 781-0500
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) 273-8255
Depression and Bipolar Support – (800) 273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline – (800) 656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline – (800) 799-7233
CyberTipline (Bullying and Cyberbullying) – (800) 843-5678
National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center – (800) 784-6776
National Eating Disorders Association – (800) 931-2237
National Runaway Switchboard (Homelessness and Runaways) – (800) 786-2929