too many words by laura lemay

jumping off the golden gate bridge

There’s a big stink right now in San Francisco about putting a suicide barrier up on the Golden Gate Bridge. Some 1200 people have jumped off the bridge since it opened in 1937. The notion is that the bridge itself is an attraction to suicidal people in the same way that the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower used to be; put up a barrier (basically: a big fence) and you remove the temptation. The argument against the barrier is that the bridge itself and the view from the bridge are amongst the most beautiful in the world and a barrier would destroy both the aesthetic of the bridge and that of the view. (and if you’ve ever tried to see Paris or New York through the big steel grates they’ve got up on the Eiffel and the Empire State now, you might be inclined to agree with that argument).

A few weeks back the SF Chronicle published this interesting infographic{.broken_link} about the location of suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. Things I learned from this map:

  • There are more sad people in San Francisco than in Marin. Either that or suicidal Marinites like to take a long walk before jumping.
  • People like to center their suicides between the two bridge towers.
  • If you are going to jump off the bridge, you do not bring your bicycle. (the bike lane is on the west (ocean) side of the bridge).
  • Jumping over land: very unpopular, but for some of the very sad San Franciscans laziness apparently wins out. (“walk all the way out to the middle of the bridge? hell no!”)

Personally I think the whole issue could be solved with giant nets underneath the bridge. Catch the jumpers in the nets and then let them sit there overnight in the notoriously horrible golden gate wind and reconsider that whole bridge idea. Bet the Golden Gate stops being so attractive real fast.