Hidden Horror of Golden Gate Suicides

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A carbon-fiber seawall across the Golden Gate was one idea that impressed judges in the Rising Tides competition.

    Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes released a study Wednesday that examined suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge over the past 15 years.
         
    Holmes said the new study, released by the coroner's office in conjunction with the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group that has advocated  installing a suicide barrier, reinforces and expands observations Holmes made in a 2007 study regarding the demographics of those who jump from the bridge.

    More than 90 percent of them are from Northern California and 80 percent are from the nine Bay Area counties, Holmes said.

    Holmes said the new study "exposes a hidden horror in the Golden Gate Bridge suicide story - the public witnesses most of these deaths.

    "Tourists, commuters, adults, children and people working on the bridge report seeing over 70 percent of all suicides from the famous span,"  Holmes said.

    "And that's just people who speak with authorities, I suspect the actual number of witnesses is much greater," Holmes said in a news release.

    He criticized the bridge district for what he said is a lack of urgency in addressing the problem of suicides.

    Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Mary Currie said this morning that the district is confronting  the problem.

    "I'm not going to address the allegations, but the district is clearly moving as quickly as possible toward a suicide barrier," Currie said.

    The district's board of directors voted in October to install a net system under the bridge to deter suicides.

    Currie said the final environmental impact report on the system is due to be released to the public this month but that the district still needs  to find $50 million for the project.

    She pointed out that the district helps thwart suicides on a regular basis.

    "Seventy percent of those who come to the bridge to harm themselves are stopped by our patrols," Currie said.

    Bay City News