Stopping Jumpers at California’s Bridges

Among American bridges, San Francisco’s Golden Gate is the most prolific departure point for suicides. At least 1,600 people have died since 1937 making the 220-feet leap into the bay. Now, officials hope to all but halt the mounting deaths. Work began in April on a project to install horizontal steel nets along either side of the bridge, a system that has been shown to decrease suicides at other bridges. Priya Clemens, a spokeswoman for Golden Gate Bridge, said many suicidal individuals go to bridges imagining, incorrectly, that hitting the water would be quick and painless. “It is not quick and it is not painless,” she said. “People break their bones and then they suffocate because they can’t swim. But that’s the romantic image.” The steel nets, positioned 20 feet below the walkway, are intended not so much to catch people, but to shatter that image with the threat of injury.

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