Golden Gate Bridge suicide surge boosts calls for net 

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Last year was a particularly grim one for the Golden Gate Bridge, with 37 people leaping off the span to their deaths — the highest annual total since 2007.

Along with those 37 people, the bridge district reported three more fatalities that haven’t been confirmed as suicides. The 37 confirmed suicides marked a 48 percent increase from 2010’s total of 25.

Since the bridge was built in 1937, at least 1,500 people have died by suicide after jumping off the walkway, said Ken Holmes, a former Marin County coroner who has personally dealt with many of the cases.

For more than 75 years, mental health advocates have been pushing for a suicide-prevention barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, which has long been a destination for those looking to end their lives. Holmes — who is now a member of the Bridge Rail Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a suicide deterrent system — said the 2011 figures are further proof that something needs to be done.

In 2008, the bridge district approved plans for a $50 million project to build a net beneath the span to act as a suicide deterrent. However, the district stipulated that bridge money would not pay for it, and the project currently faces a $45 million shortfall.

Mary Currie, a bridge district spokeswoman, said the district is moving forward with its design plans for the suicide deterrent system, despite the lack of funding.

She also noted that 100 possible suicides were stopped last year, which means more than 70 percent of attempts were halted.

Confirmed suicides on bridge

2011: 37

2010: 25

2009: 29

2008: 28

2007: 39

2006: 31

2005: 23

Note: The Golden Gate Bridge district has said its suicide statistics are unofficial.

Source: Golden Gate Bridge district

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