Two or three people are still taking their lives on the bridge each month, but the completion date for a long-sought suicide detrerrent net is finally on the horizon.
People have been calling for a suicide net on the Golden Gate Bridge since the 1950s, but the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District did not actually approve the funding for a suicide detrerrent net until 2014. Well, it is now eight years later, and still no net, and estimates on the number of people who’ve taken their lives on the bridge vary between 1,800 and 2,100 since the bridge’s opening in 1937.
But the net is getting close to completion. Nearly three-quarters of the steel supports have been installed, and are visible to the named eye, and the Chronicle reports that the suicde deterrent net is on pace to be finished by the end of 2023.
“By the end of next year bridge staff expect to finish the $206.7 million barrier, intended to catch any disconsolate person who leaps from the rail,” the Chronicle reports. “As of this week, construction workers have affixed 264 of 369 orange net supports, along with 20,000 square feet of woven steel.”
Last we heard about two years ago pre-pandemic, the net’s completion was delayed until 2023. So in the context of the latest delay, the deterrent net is finally on track, rather then falling further begins schedule upon every update.
“We’re beginning to see that it’s going to be completed, and we’re hoping that it will get deaths down to zero,” Bridge Rail Foundation president Paul Muller told the Chronicle. (The Bridge Rail Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to ending suicides on the bridge.)
The cost of this net has skyrocketed from an original $76 million in 2014 to about $207 million now. Obviously, things cost more than they did in 2014. But the bridge district was clearly hobbled by a contractor named Shimmick & Co. blowing a number of deadlines, then getting acquired by a conglomerate, and then being sold to another conglomerate, which led to literally zero progress for a few years. Construction of the deterrent net did not begin until 2017.
Engineers and designers have resolved a number of aesthetic and structural issues, so now it’s all just a matter of installation. But the Chronicle has a photo of the support beams that will be installed, and one can’t help but wonder — couldn’t someone die if they hit that steel support beam? The support net and its structures might not prevent 100% of all suicides. Nonetheless, it would probably prevent the vast majority of fatalities. And if it saves most peoples’ lives, the many years and many dollars spent will likely be a worthwhile investment.
If you are in crisis, text "BAY" to 741741 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis support from Crisis Text Line. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you or they should call the San Francisco Suicide Prevention crisis line at 415-781-0500.
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.
Image: @carlsolder via Unsplash