SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — It’s been years in the making, with heart-wrenching debate, but a final agreement on funding for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge was reached last week.
The safety net should be completed by 2018. It’s a historic change for the 77-year-old span where 1,400 to 1,600 suicides have been documented.
KCBS’ co-hosts Jane McMillan and Ed Cavagnaro get reactions from two men, from opposite sides of the pedestrian guard rail, who have an intimate knowledge of the iconic span and the lure it presents to the desperate.
Twenty-three years of patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge brought now-retired California Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Briggs face to face with hundreds of troubled perched in position to jump into the Bay.
Briggs said the barrier is long overdue. The Golden Gate, he said, with all its beauty is a particular draw for many.
“That is where they want it be,” he said. “I’ve had folks come from across the country and around the world to contemplate suicide or jump off that particular bridge. If you take that means away, because folks want a particular means of suicide, generally then they don’t do it.”
Kevin Hines doesn’t believe the beauty of the bridge lures jumpers but he agrees that removing an easy opportunity can end the desire to die. He came to that conclusion after a split second after throwing himself off the Golden Gate bring when he was 17 years old.
Miraculously, Hines survived and he spoke about his instant regret he felt during his free fall to water below.
“People don’t go to the Golden Gate Bridge because of its beauty to die; they go to the Golden Gate Bridge to die because it’s easy and it seems like the most painless and free option,” he said. “What they don’t understand is that there are tens of ways to die off of that bridge and none of them are painless. They are slow, they are mind bending and they are violent.”