UK & World News

  • 28 June 2014, 0:20

Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Net Plan Welcomed

Survivors and relatives of some those who have jumped to their deaths from San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge have welcomed the decision to install a suicide barrier.

Bridge officials have approved a $76m funding package for a net below the bridge, potentially bringing to an end decades of wrangling over the issue.

Dan Barks, whose son Donovan committed suicide on the bridge in 2008, said: "A lot of people have done so much incredible work to get this accomplished."

More than 1,400 people have plunged to their deaths from the bridge since it opened in 1937. A record 46 people committed suicide there last year alone.

Janet Reilly, a member of the bridge's board of directors, said: "The tragedy of today is that we can't go back in time. We can't save the people who jumped off the bridge.

"But the good thing, with this vote today, we can vote in their memory. We will save many lives who have followed in their footsteps and that's what's so extraordinary about today."

Opponents have long protested that the suicide barrier would ruin the look of the bridge.

Kevin Hines is among the few to survive his suicide attempt after jumping off the bridge as a 19 year old in 2000. He said he felt "instant regret" when he leapt and believes a net will deter suicidal people.

He said: "Not one more soul, not one more soul will be lost to that bridge."

And John Brooks, whose 17-year-old daughter Casey committed suicide on the bridge in 2008, said the net would remove a temptation for those considering taking their own lives. He said: "Oftentimes it's the Golden Gate Bridge or nothing."

Officials have been discussing a suicide barrier on the bridge for decades.

The bridge's board voted in 2008 to install a stainless steel net, rejecting other options, including raising railings and leaving the bridge unchanged.

Two years later they certified the final environmental impact report for the net, which would stretch about 20-ft (6-m) wide on each side of the span. Funding had remained the major obstacle.

Statistics show that very few of those who are talked down from jumping from the bridge go on to later successfully commit suicide.

 

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