The number of deaths by suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge has decreased remarkably as work on the suicide prevention nets continues, and the barriers are expected to be fully installed by the end of the year.

Installation of the Golden Gate Bridge suicide prevention nets has been going on for more than six years, which is way behind schedule, but the barriers are nearly completed. Bay City News reports that the network of steel cables connecting netting 20 feet below the bridge’s pedestrian walkways is now 75% complete, and “is expected to be finished by the end of this year.”

But far more importantly, that same report notes a significant reduction in deaths by suicide on the bridge in recent months, likely attributable to the prevention nets. In the first six months of 2023, there have been only five confirmed deaths by suicide on the bridge. That’s compared to 22 such deaths all of last year, and an average of 30-40 a year prior to 2019, according to the suicide prevention group Bridge Rail Foundation that has long advocated for the prevention barriers.    

"It's been a long hard haul, and I'm delighted that the net is going forward and that suicides have decreased," Bridge Rail Foundation co-founder David Hull told Bay City News.

This is the best news in a long time for the much-delayed suicide prevention net project. Last we reported on the matter in February of this year, the project’s contractors were suing the Bridge Highway and Transportation District for $195 million, claiming they’ve had to shoulder the costs of design flaws and deteriorating bridge components. (That case is still pending.) And of course, it was originally a $76 million project that has ballooned to having a price tag of well over $200 million, plus its completion is now four years behind the original schedule.

There is also an argument that the nets won’t really even save any lives, because people will just find other methods to take their own lives. Suicide prevention advocates don’t buy it.

"It's been demonstrated over and over again in suicide research that usually when people decide to kill themselves, they have a plan, place and time," Hull told Bay City News. "And if that is denied them for some reason, they don't typically find a different plan and complete a suicide.

"We're programmed to live," he explained. "And if we can get past that moment, life will re-assert itself."

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.

Related: That Suicide Prevention Net Along Golden Gate Bridge Won't Be Done for at Least Another Year [SFist]

Image: SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27: People look at the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun rises January 27, 2005 in San Francisco. A controversial film made by moviemaker Eric Steel documenting people committing suicide off of the Golden Gate Bridge has opened a debate about why there isn't a suicide barrier on the famous landmark. Over 1,300 people have jumped to their death from the span since the bridge opened in 1937. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)