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Golden Gate Bridge/ Suicide History*

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Skrevet af juce 7. oktober 2017 19:41

On this day in 1933, construction starts on what will become one of America’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate has a 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’s longest suspension bridge. Since opening to the public in May 1937, almost 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge, in both the north- and southbound directions.

The bridge was named not for its distinctive orange color (which provides extra visibility to passing ships in San Francisco’s famous fog), but for the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge spans the strait and connects the northern part of the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California.

Prior to the bridge’s construction, the only way to travel between these two areas was by ferry boat.

The bridge’s chief engineer, Joseph B. Strauss (1870-1938), an Ohio native who built numerous bridges across the U.S., was involved with the Golden Gate project by the early 1920s. From the beginning, Strauss and his collaborators faced numerous challenges, including opposition from skeptical city officials (who were concerned about costs), environmentalists and ferry operators (who were worried the bridge would impact their business). Some members of the engineering community said it was technically impossible to build the bridge, and it was not easy to raise funding for the project at the beginning of the Great Depression (a $35 million bond issue to finance construction of the bridge was passed in California in 1930). Once construction began, workers had to contend with the strong ocean currents and heavy winds and fog in Golden Gate Strait. Eleven workers died during the building of the bridge, 10 of them on one day, February 17, 1937, when their scaffolding fell through a safety net.

Despite all of these issues, the Golden Gate Bridge, with its art deco design, was completed in four years and on May 27, 1937, some 200,000 people showed up to celebrate its opening. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House, signaling to the world that the bridge was open to vehicular traffic. The initial toll for the bridge was 50 cents each way.

The Golden Gate would remain the world’s longest suspension bridge until it was surpassed, by 60 feet, by New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which opened in 1964. In February 1985, the 1 billionth car crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, more than 41 million vehicles travel across the bridge each

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BRIDGE OF DEATH - SUICIDES AT THE GOLDEN GATE
WRITTEN BY DENISE OLIVERI.
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golden-gate-bridgeSan Franciso's Golden Gate Bridge is not only known as the most photographed structure in the USA but also for it's more intriguing title as the most popular site for suicide jumps in the world. Over 1,200 people have travelled to this location to take their own lives since the bridge opened in 1937. In fact, the rate of suicide is rising and, as Denise Oliveri reports, officials are struggling to stop the frenzy.

The drop from the Golden Gate Bridge is approximately 260 feet. It takes a quick four seconds to drop from the deck of the bridge to the waters below, and at a speed of 75 mph it is almost always an instant death. With such a fast impact many jumpers are convinced they won't feel a thing, making the idea of suicide more tolerable at this location.

The Golden Gate Bridge has been a popular jump site for people wanting to commit suicide since the bridge opened in 1937. As of October 2003, there have been approximately 1,200 successful suicide attempts made here1, a figure that has captured the attention of people worldwide. The latest statistics show there is one new successful suicide attempt made at the Golden Gate Bridge every two weeks.

Marin County Coroner, Ken Holmes, reports that 206 people committed suicide by jumping off the bridge from 1997 to 2007. Fifty-nine of these incidents were by San Francisco residents, and made up a third of the total, but others travelled great distances just to plunge to their death at this location.

The fall is brutal and violent. For most, death is immediate, but for a few they will land in the water in such a way they do not instantly die but with injuries they are plummeted below the frigid water to a slow and agonizing death.

REDUCING SUICIDE ATTEMPTS

One proposal to reduce the number of suicide jumpers at the Golden Gate is to increase the height of the bridge railings, making it more difficult for jumpers to perform the plunge into the waters below. The problem with making higher rails is that they may not be able to withstand the 100 mph winds sometimes seen at this height. Different designs for barriers have been discussed by officials for years, but have met with much opposition from residents who don't want the barriers in place.

Cost has been a major issue for building the barriers, which could cost approximately $20,000,0003. Experts point out that barriers have improved suicide rates at places like the Eifel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York, but officials worry that these new barriers could cause safety issues for the bridge, especially in the case of high winds.

The bridge has suicide hotline phones installed along the path in the hope that those in desperation will make a call in lieu of jumping. Other precautions undertaken are that the bridge is closed to pedestrians at nightfall (with the exception of cyclists who are allowed access by staff through security gates) and beefed up security has been placed along the bridge where staff will patrol and look for any potential jumpers4.

SURVIVORS OF THE JUMP

As of 2006, only 26 people are known to have survived the jump and most have died later from internal injuries2. These "survivors" usually land feet first in the water and sustain multiple fractures and damage to internal organs such as ruptured spleens.

For most their first attempt will be their last but in a suprising case a young woman who jumped once and survived in 1988, took the plunge again later that same year and died. For her the attraction of the now infamous 'Bridge of Death' was just too much.

For more information on the suicide prevention efforts visit the Golden Gate Suicide Barrier Coalition at

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The net will be constructed of stainless steel
(CNN)The Golden Gate Bridge has a problem: horrifyingly high suicide rates. The community has a solution: a net covering the perimeter of the bridge.

It sounds like a simple response to a complex problem, but the barrier is a big task. In May, crews will begin to erect fencing along the approaches and tower legs, but that deterrent is only temporary. From there, workers will take careful measurements to begin installing a net that extends 20 feet out along both sides of the 1.7 mile long bridge.
The installation will begin in 2018 and the Golden Gate Bridge, Transportation and Highway District expects construction to be completed in 2021.
And this isn't your average net. It will be constructed from stainless steel -- light enough to be inconspicuous, but strong enough to save lives.
Since the bridge was built in 1937, nearly 1,700 people have leapt to their deaths from it, according to the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group dedicated to stopping suicides from bridges.
The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District posted a video on Facebook to introduce the net project.

Costing $211 million to design, plan, and construct, the project is a group effort. The funds are coming from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, state mental health provisions and private donations.
It sounds like a high price, but for suicide prevention it can have a big impact.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said 39 people died last year alone by jumping from the bridge.
"What you're doing here today, what the Bridge is doing, what the taxpayers are doing, will hopefully turn that number to zero."
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi echoed the statements in her address at the ceremony. "We are honoring a deep moral responsibility to save lives whenever and wherever we can."
But how does the net prevent suicides in the long term?
The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District cited a 1978 Sieden study at the Golden Gate Bridge and a Harvard School of Public Health article. The consensus from both? Of the people that were stopped from jumping, 90% did not later die by suicide.
So a net that saves a life today may offer more than just a chance at tomorrow.