Deadliest year for suicides at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 7:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 7:57pm

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge marked a tragic milestone last year as 46 people leaped to their deaths from the California landmark.

That appeared to make it the deadliest year yet for suicides there, a watchdog group said. The bridge was built in 1937.

The Bridge Rail Foundation, which tracks deaths on the 1,280-metre-long span, said the high number of suicides demonstrated the need for a safety net to be installed to make it more difficult for would-be jumpers to kill themselves.

"I know it won't be built soon, and that's the most frustrating thing about this," board member Dayna Whitmer said. "We hate to see any more 17-year-olds jump or 86-year-olds jump. It's just not right." Whitmer's 20-year-old son, Matthew, is believed to have committed suicide at the Golden Gate in 2007.

Cars cross the suspension bridge more than 67 metres above San Francisco Bay, and the span ranks as one of the world's most frequently chosen sites for public suicides. It is also one of the most lethal, with jumps nearly always fatal.

A spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, Mary Currie, confirmed that 46 people had committed suicide at the bridge last year, the highest annual total since at least 2000, when an unofficial count began.

Currie said police officers or others had intervened to stop another 118 people from leaping off the span last year.

Whitmer said last year's suicide tally, up from 33 in 2012, was the "highest we can confirm" since the bridge was built.