|Golden Gate Bridge Suicides|
|Golden Gate Bridge Suicide History|
1987 - 2007
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BRIDGE SUICIDE CURB IS SOUGHT
The body of Louis Levin,
Police said Levin is the second victim of the bridge. Harold Wobber leaped to his death last August. Several weeks ago the fur coat of a woman was found on the bridge, leading to the belief another suicide had occurred, but no body ever was found.
Over 70 years ago the issue of suicide prevention on the
Harold Wobber was the first confirmed suicide. He was the first victim with a mental disorder; back then it was called "Shell-shocked" but it is the equivilant of PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Harold was also the first victim whose body was not recovered.
In his original design for the
structure to deter suicide. He specified a safety railing of five feet six inches, capped in
a manner difficult for any climber to grasp. Strauss advertised the bridge through the
press as practically suicide-proof. Architect Irving Morrow changed that design, and
specified a lower railing.
In early 1939, with the Bridge open only18 months, the suicide count reached 11 and
the California Highway Patrol began to express its concern publicly. The Bridge
District's first "study" of the problem was in 1948. Engineers recommended a
solution in 1953.
In 1973, media coverage exploded over the 500th suicide from the Bridge.
The decade heralded an in-depth analysis of seventeen suicide barrier designs
by the firm Anshen + Allen. Unfortunately, this extensive work did not rouse
the Bridge District to take any remedial action.
As the suicide total approached 1,000, Bridge officials finally took action—
they stopped counting. Under public pressure, the District also installed
telephones with links to crisis counseling centers and instituted special
training for bridge staff and emergency service personnel. A new design
for the railing was examined and a prototype was installed in the Bridge parking lot.
District officials never measured the effectiveness of their actions in the ‘90s.
Yet we know the deaths continue because the Marin Coroner has made the
information public. In 2005 24 deaths were reported, plus an additional five
suspected jumps where no body was recovered. The coroner reported 34 bodies
recovered in Marin,
jumps in 2006. There were at least 35 suicide jumps in 2007, 34 in 2008,
31 in 2009 and 34 in 2010—well over 1,400 in total.
In the fall of 2008, the Bridge District voted to accept a stainless steel net as
its preferred option to stop the suicides. Since then all the needed environmental
studies and historic reviews have been completed. Local transportation authorities
have provided funds for the final engineering drawings for the safety net. Funding
for construction of the net has yet to be identified, however a strategy is in place.
Congressional advocated s for the safety net have proposed an amendment to the
National transportation Act that will allow funds for suicide prevention structures
on problem bridges nationwide. While this legislation is pending, advocates have
been gathering support and reaching out to other communities with problem bridges.
everything from tourist promotions to Marine Corps recruiting drives. We know
virtually every landmark structure in the world has had a suicide problem. These i
the Golden Gate Bridge stands alone, and the deaths continue—at about 30 per year.
One of the best documentaries about the history of the bridge and its suicides has been compiled by Jenni Olson, a filmmaker who created "The Joy of Life". You can read the detailed history at her website, and learn about her documentary film, The Joy of Life.
PBS American Experience created a documentary about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. Many historical facts are available at this website, including timelines, opposition to the building of the bridge, an incredible photograph of the Golden Gate before a bridge was built and more.
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