SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Work officially began Thursday on a net under the Golden Gate Bridge intended to prevent and deter the dozens of suicides that take place at the iconic landmark each year.

More than 1,500 people are thought to have died there over the bridge’s 80-year lifespan.

The stainless steel net, located about 20 feet below the bridge’s sidewalk, will span 1.7 miles of roadway on each side of the bridge and extend 20 feet out over the water.

It will be built over a period of four years, at a cost of just over $200 million drawn from a mix of federal, state and local sources.

At a ceremony today to mark the start of the project, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that during the long process of obtaining the funding for the project, people would ask her, “isn’t that a lot of money for a net?”

“And we would say no, it’s not a lot of money for a life, for all of these lives,” Pelosi said.

“Together we are acting on a deep moral imperative to save lives wherever we can,” Pelosi said.

The scenic bridge has proven to have a deadly allure over the years.

In 2016 alone, 39 people died by suicide there. Bridge patrol officers also conducted 184 successful interventions in 2016 to keep people from harming themselves.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, shared her own personal experience with a Golden Gate Bridge suicide, when radio talk show host and political activist Duane Garrett, who had worked on her campaigns, took his own life there in 1995.

“For many years, I had to wonder why,” Feinstein said. “And there are many families here today that have had to wonder why.”

Despite the many deaths, the families of suicide victims have had a long, hard battle of many years, first to win support for a suicide barrier of some sort and then to see it funded.

Local officials scrambled to assemble the last piece of funding in December 2016, after bids came in at least $120 million over original estimates.

Kymberlyrenee Gamboa, who lost her 18-year-old son Kyle to suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge in 2013, said Thursday his death had led her and her husband on a journey to determine what could have led to his death and how others like it could be prevented.

“Today marks the beginning of the end of suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge,” Gamboa said. “Soon no family will experience the tragedy of a suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge.”

A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health review found that, overall, nine out of 10 people who attempt suicide and survive will not go on to die by suicide at a later date.

Similarly, a 1978 study conducted at the Golden Gate Bridge showed that 90 percent of those who were prevented from jumping did not later die by suicide or other violent means.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Priya Clemens said, “The construction starts this year but people won’t see very much right now, what they’re going to see is a little bit of fencing going up that’ll protect the contractors as they’re underneath the bridge taking measurements.”

Clemens said, “The concept behind the suicide deterrent is that the people who come here don’t actually want to hurt themselves, they want to end their lives, and when you see a hard stainless steel platform two stories down that you will hit when you jump off the sidewalk, that’s going to stop you from jumping at all.”

Work crews will begin installing temporary fencing along the bridge approaches and around the tower legs in May, with installation set to follow in mid-2018.

TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Comments (58)
  1. Alternative facts anyone? Melissa Caen of CBS 5 states that “in the first six months of 2016 eighty-eight people under that age of 35 jumped to their deaths off the Golden Gate Bridge.” But the article here states “In 2016 alone, 39 people died by suicide there.” Which statement is true?

    1. Sam Wise says:

      So, what stops them from jumping off the net?
      More people would be saved if they had their mercury fillings removed and received chelation therapy to remove mercury acquired from vaccines and the many other sources we are exposed.
      Andrew Cutler protocol is the only safe chelation method, and doesn’t require a doctor.
      Heavy Metal Chelation of mercury, lead, and others, is only way to recover from crushing depression and the feelings on doom, which are two separate conditions. If this is you, don’t waste time with MDs and their drugs, they’ll make you sicker. The only way out is to have mercury fillings removed by dentist who specializes in this, then follow Andrew Culter protocol for chelation. It will remove lead, mercury and arsenic. Depression and doom will go away in about 4 months to 1 year. To remove other toxins use regular sweating in sauna, daily if possible for 1-2 years. Hang in there and you’ll make it.
      If fungus is bad, colloidal silver works best, but fungus will adapt, so rotate weekly with other fungus killers.

  2. Jim Olson says:

    “Today marks the beginning of the end of suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge,”

    So when the net is built, jumpers will have to crawl over it to continue their trip to the water.

    If you’re desperate enough to kill yourself, you’re not going to let a little thing like a net get in your way.

  3. Fred Debros says:

    after a fall you are more desperate to go home than continue crawling!
    about half of the jumpers survive, some paraplegic, brain damaged or plain bone broken. another study showed that of 150 survivors nobody ever tried again.
    it also showed one fascinating tidbit: since you have almost one minute to think about what you just started to do during the fall, what was your last thought before you hit the water? without exception: oops that was a mistake, i should not have let go! this tidbit i always tell in my suicide prevention talk.
    moral: if you use a gun or jump in front of a train, there are no second thoughts, so give yourself at least a chance, use a technique that has a delay between intent and execution. plenty around: starve to death, drink etc.

    1. Rob Lynn says:

      “Almost one minute?” A skydiver will fall 10,000 feet in one minute! How tall is that bridge in your world?

      1. True, a minute is off as a time estimate. But he’s right about the central point he’s making. Many suicide attempt survivors, including Golden Gate Bridge jumpers, have spoken of changing their minds only once it was “too late.” Not in the majority of cases, but sometimes the gravity of death becomes real enough to change someone’s mind only after the attempt/jump.

  4. Fred Debros says:

    follow-up on this: suicide thoughts are always present in our brains, hourly, daily, anybody has them. the crucial thing is: realization is an impulse based on a shortcircuit in the brain: between thought and execution one normally takes a deep breath in almost all life events. impulse short circuit not thought out actions are always a bad idea and mostly have a negative outcome. if its regret its the leat negative one.

  5. Pelosi’s hilarious. So concerned about life, but a big fan of Planned Parenthood’s millions of abortions and selling of dead baby parts in order to buy luxury cars. No wonder the Democrat Party barely exists outside of a handful of sanctuary cities.

  6. 200M$? to force them to find an alternative method of suicide, #MCGA

  7. Les Hutton says:

    $200M??? Run a hot wire just above the handrail for less than $1M… No affect to the aesthetics of the bridge.

  8. Go to a different bridge. Mostly Obama voters jumping so who cares.

  9. Kruel Hunter says:

    Can anyone explain how suicides are victims of anything but their own unwillingness to live through life’s vicissitudes?

  10. Sam Burnell says:

    Why not just setup suicide booths at either side of the bridge and one on both sides at the top. World is overcrowded and these “people” are obviously not fit to breed. The fact that so many are in 20s and 30s just further justifies the “snowflake” title. Grow up or exit.

  11. Nancy get her normal 40% of the $200 mil

  12. “i couldnt understand why they were letting it continue”
    THIS is the problem, not the bridge!

  13. Just to be clear – when you do something to yourself, like jump off a bridge, you’re not a victim. An idiot, yes, a victim, no. Just government wasting more money to save idiots that shouldn’t be saved. I have no idea why government gets involved in saving people who want to off themselves.

  14. At a ceremony today to mark the start of the project, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that during the long process of obtaining the funding for the project, people would ask her, “isn’t that a lot of money for a net?”

    “And we would say no, it’s not a lot of money for a life, for all of these lives,” Pelosi said.

    Spoke like a true out of touch liberal who just wants to spend other people’s. money. Hey, liberal a$$h0l3 – 200 million to save about 18 lives a year is a ridiculous waste of public cash.

    Here is the difference between braindead liberals and everyone else: a liberal takes 200 million and blows it people who want to die, and should die. Everyone else would take that 200 million and use it to help veterans, rebuild roads, invest in border security, deport illegals….the list goes on and on. Only the idiots in Kalifornia would keep voting that moronic waste of space, Pelosi, into office over and over again.

    1. Byte Meh says:

      Your last statement hits the nail on the head.

      Here is the difference between braindead liberals and everyone else: a liberal takes 200 million and blows it people who want to die, and should die. Everyone else would take that 200 million and use it to help veterans, rebuild roads, invest in border security, deport illegal

      While I don’t agree they or anyone “should die” they have elected to do so vs driving their car into another or harming another individual in their horribly sad and desperate act. A bridge jump just impacts them and no other innocent party.

      What that state could do to education with $200M or hell even mental clinics for suicide prevention would be massive. Stupid a$$ liberals saving people from themselves yet again and trying to fix every fringe problem in the world except the real massive and serious ones like our national debt, illegals violating our sovereign nation, and creating the welfare state by rewarding laziness while vets pile up in queues and die waiting for services.

  15. If people want to check out on their own, why would you stop them. Would you rather have them do it with a gun; which is painless and instant. Or, would you rather that they take poisons? The same people who whine about other methods are quite fine with doctor assisted suicide. Let them be and keep your hands out of the taxpayers pockets.

  16. $200m??? It would have only cost a fraction of a sliver of a percentage of that to have saved Kate Steinle.

  17. Jim Greaves says:

    “If it saves one life” The mantra of the gun confiscation-and-destruction crowd. Perhaps they should ban all bridges, melt down all the iron, and build a twisted monument in front of that UN building in NY… Same logic, same lame purpose. People who do not want to live “should be permitted to die with dignity at their own hands” – the logic of the pro-euthanasia crowd… Pelosi and her nambla and nawgla friends.

  18. California passed “The right to die with dignity” law a couple years ago.

  19. Choose one: 1) die a slow death by AIDS in San Francisco, or 2) end it all with a scenic view and a big splash! Democrats have few options there….

  20. My father Jumped. I would no sooner blame “the bridge” then I would anyone else…as usual when Fed dollars are involved, Ms. Pelosi feigns concern for humanity (accept when it’s unborn babies). That she uses my father’s and others’ tragedy as a reason for her to appear “relevant” incenses me greatly. His manner of death was shocking and tragic. Those that tried to talk him off were forever changed that day. I’m just thankful he chose a method that did not “take others with him” … personally would have preferred $$ to go to suicide prevention, mental health & substance abuse programs. And also, could the SF Chronicle STOP posting numbers and Jumper exposes?!! My fathers death occurred the Monday following one of their seemingly annual “why they Jump” pieces

  21. Kent Marsh says:

    From $76 million to $200 Million????
    So, how did a $76 million dollar project inflate to over $200 million? Nancy Pelo$i and other GRAFTERS are getting theirs, no doubt. Your tax dollars going to these corrupt politicians has to stop. DRAIN THE SWAMP.

  22. How about a suicide net around Millennium Tower? For its residents who choose not to sway ad nauseam in downtown’s version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

  23. Kent Lemon says:

    Only someone as stupid as Pelosi would cook this idiocy up.
    $200 mil for “solution” that won’t save even one life.
    $200 mil would buy a great deal of psychiatric care however.

  24. the san fran gran nan wants to save lives, but supports planned parenthood?

  25. Here is what happens when you attempt to jump to your death from a bridge to water. You paralyze yourself. Still conscious. You drown alive. Drowning is the most painful way to die. Coroner reports show death by drowning as a result of suicide.

  26. It is speculation that this is money well spent. The possibility that it saves some lives of the impulsive suicidal is not clear, nor is the possibility that it will cost lives (as half the jumpers survive to go on to not commit suicide again, whereas they may not have survived if they were forced to use an alternate method). This may do little more than make suicides less enjoyable to those committing them.

    It is really doubtful that there wouldn’t be a better way to spend this much money. If you want to save lives, there are probably much more effective ways to do so with this money. Besides, the politicians getting this money are generally in favor of assisted suicide. So one suspects that this is only happening because there are sufficiently powerful politicians involved (Pelosi, e.g.) that they can get money to spend in their districts, even for completely pointless projects.

  27. Ty Ginger says:

    I bet someone who donated to Pelosi and Feinstein got the inflated bid in order to send some back their way. I don’t understand how these corrupt old hags keep getting re-elected. Californians are stupid.

  28. Jim Speers says:

    So why stop them? I would put up a sign in 28 languages that says “this is a great place to jump…”

  29. Denying foot traffic, especially at night, and increasing security to keep people from getting out of their car on the span would be enormously cheaper than the stupid net. Maybe looking for the cause would be a good idea as well. The Left is so fond of special programs and the money would be better spent on treating depression and suicide hot-line programs.

  30. “Together we are acting on a deep moral imperative to save lives wherever we can,” Pelosi said.
    Says the woman who approves 100% of aborting over a million babies in the USA every year.

  31. When are Democrats going to ever realize, that the state can never, ever, stop people who are really determined to do what they want? Did these idiots not figure out that people will just jump onto the net, and then climb over the net to jump off?

  32. Davin Gray says:

    Very sad when someone is so desperate to end their life they can overcome the instinct to survive. Such a lonely and desperate thing to do. If someone is reading this and contemplating suicide, please reach out for help. There are people who care.