Thursday, December 6, 2007

Is There Any Hope Really?

Large number of suicides occurs each year at the Golden Gate Bridge between San Francisco and Marin County. One person jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge every 15 days on average, according to documentary 'The Bridge'. Film captured 19 people as they took their final plunge, and then offers interviews with grieving families.

After a fall of approximately four seconds jumpers hit the water at 75 miles per hour (120 km/h) with the force of a speeding truck meeting a concrete building. The jump is fatal 98 percent of the time. Accessibility is the biggest factor in making the Golden Gate Bridge the world's No. 1 suicide magnet. It makes suicide so easy and that is what makes it so dangerous. More than 1,250 suicides were reported since the time the bridge opened, on May 27, 1937.

Various methods have been proposed and implemented to reduce the number of suicides. The bridge is fitted with suicide hotline telephones, (sometimes inoperative, as you can see), and staff patrol the bridge in carts, looking for people who appear to be planning to jump. The bridge is now closed to pedestrians at night. Cyclists are still permitted across at night, but must be buzzed in and out through the remotely controlled security gates.

Attempts to introduce a suicide barrier have been thwarted by engineering difficulties, high costs, and public opposition. The estimated cost of a barrier is between $15 and $20 million. One recurring proposal is to build a barrier to replace or augment the low railing, a component of the bridge's original architectural design. New barriers have eliminated suicides at other landmarks around the world, but were opposed for the Golden Gate Bridge for reasons of cost, aesthetics, and safety. The load from a poorly designed barrier could significantly affect the bridge's structural integrity during a strong windstorm.

Today, the Golden Gate Bridge remains a nearly foolproof method for suicide. It is combination of beauty, lethality, romance and efficiency for people, who have the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide site in their mind. The particular place or method of suicide is individual, but it is a function of what's available. The majority of bridge suicides are impulsive, but for a personality in crisis the accessibility of the Golden Gate Bridge is the tipping point between life and death.

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