As most everyone knows, the Golden Gate Bridge plays host to breathtaking views as well as, unfortunately, tragedy. Officers have long patrolled the bridge with the goal of preventing suicides, and now the Marin Independent Journal reports that they're going to get some additional assistance. Five new officers are to be hired with the specific assignment of patrolling the bridge on foot — hopefully reducing suicides in the process.
This follows a years-long increase in the number of successful interventions on the bridge — going from an average of 52 people per year between 2000 and 2005 to 138 so far this year alone. “This increase in interventions is directly related to our presence on the sidewalks,” Captain Lisa Locati, a bridge enforcement officer, is quoted by the Journal as explaining. “The officers want to be on the sidewalk detail. They are the front line in these situations.”
The five new officers will bring the total to 22, meaning that three to four will be out on the bridge at one time. They are expected to start working early next year, and will cost an additional $637,000 annually. At present, there are typically two officers on the bridge.
Putting more individuals trained in suicide prevention on the bridge is only one planned method of reducing bridge deaths. A steel net that would run under the bridge is also in the works, although ballooning costs have delayed the start of construction.
“Unfortunately, we continue to have suicides on the bridge," bridge spokesperson Priya Clemens told the Chronicle in July. "There were 33 last year. It’s just not acceptable to let that continue."
It is believed that over 2,000 people have jumped from the bridge since it opened to traffic in 1937.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.