TIME Transportation

The Golden Gate Bridge Is Getting Its First Suicide Nets

The Golden Gate Bridge at Golden Gate National Park is viewed from a nearby hiking trail on April 2, 2014, in San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge at Golden Gate National Park is viewed from a nearby hiking trail on April 2, 2014, in San Francisco. George Rose—Getty Images

After 80 years and more than 1,400 deaths

California officials approved $76 million in funding Friday to install an elaborate system of nets to prevent people from jumping off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, taking action after more than 1,400 deaths in 80 years.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which oversees the bridge, will provide $20 million in funding for the project, with the rest coming from state and federal coffers. A small amount of the funding still has yet to be approved, however.

Denis Mulligan, the bridge’s general manager, said he expects the net to be “completely effective” in preventing suicides.

“They think they can’t jump, so they don’t,” Mulligan said.

The bridge’s suicide-prevention system has been a long time coming. Golden Gate officials have instituted a number of measures to mitigate suicide attempts, including a telephone hotline, throughout the structure’s long history. Bridge employees, including painters, ironworkers and patrol officers, are responsible for responding to potential jumpers, often putting their own lives in danger in the process.

Despite these efforts, those who survived attempts to jump off the bridge and the families of suicide victims have argued that more was needed.

The original proposal for the net system cited a number of benefits for their installation, including improved public safety for drivers and a potential reduction in security expenses. Ultimately, however, the report concluded that the installation “simply is the right thing to do” given the prior loss of life and its impact on victims’ families.

In 2013, 46 people committed suicide by jumping off the bridge, while another 118 were talked down.

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