Golden Gate suicides: Deaths from San Francisco’s famous bridge ‘reached all-time high’ in 2013

Watchdog says ‘it’s just not right’ that nothing is being done to protect those at risk

The number of people jumping to their deaths from San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge reached an all-time high in 2013, according to a safety watchdog group.

Public suicide rates at the California landmark are among the highest in the world, and campaigners have demanded that something be done after 46 people killed themselves there last year alone.

As well as those deaths, police officers and members of the public intervened to save would-be jumpers on 118 other occasions.

The Bridge Rail Foundation, which monitors fatalities at the Golden Gate Bridge and lobbies for the installation of safety measures, said last year’s number was the “highest we can confirm”, up from 33 in 2012, and higher than a number of previous reported records.

Dayna Whitmer, a board member for the foundation whose 20-year-old son is believed to have died at the bridge, said the growing number of suicides showed the urgent need for a safety net on the 220ft-high structure.

“I know it won't be built soon, and that's the most frustrating thing about this,” Ms Whitmer said. “We hate to see any more 17-year-olds jump or 86-year-olds jump, it's just not right.”

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 she began keeping an unofficial count.

Since the bridge was built in 1937, suicide rates were believed to have peaked at around 40 or 41 in a single year. There has never been an official record of numbers, and many bodies of suspected jumpers are never found – but an analysis published by the San Francisco Chronicle found 40 suicides occurred at the Golden Gate in 1977.

Officials have drawn up plans to install a safety net beneath the span's sidewalks to catch people who jump, which have been approved on both practical and environmental grounds.

Ms Whitmer said a safety net would cut down on future fatalities by saving individuals from what is often an impulsive decision.

“If we can give them the time to get through that crisis, then they can go back and get help or call someone,” she said.

The only stumbling block to getting a net put up is the price – the project is budgeted at an estimated $66 million (£39.5 million). In 2011, a firm was given $5 million to design the net, Ms Currie said.

For now, officials work to prevent suicides with law enforcement officers on bicycle patrols. At any given time, two to four officers are on the bridge's sidewalks, according to Andrew Barclay, a spokesperson the California Highway Patrol.

He said there was no clear explanation for the high number of suicide jumpers last year. “Suicides really come in waves, it seems like some years are high, some years are low,“ Mr Barclay said.

Additional reporting by agencies

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'