On September 20, 2013, my 18-year old son Kyle, jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Kyle was a funny, athletic, and vibrant high school senior. He is one of almost 1,600 people who have ended their lives by suicide by jumping off the iconic landmark - it is now the most popular suicide spot in the nation. Lawmakers are finally getting serious about building a suicide prevention barrier on the bridge.
2013 marked a record for suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. Forty-six people jumped to their deaths and 118 others attempted to jump but were talked down. During one 24-hour period last July, there were four suicides. A simple barrier would stop people from coming to the bridge to end their lives. Many other landmarks around the world have suicide prevention barriers and they are extremely effective. The Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, all have barriers.
The pain of losing Kyle to suicide is still very real. My husband still cannot bring himself to read Kyle’s suicide note, which said: “I’m happy. I thought this was a good place to end.” Kyle’s choice to end his life was an impulsive act planned less than fours before his death. If a barrier had been there, Kyle may still be with us today.
There is a common misconception that people will just find other ways to kill themselves if the barrier is put in place. In a 1978 study looked at the question of whether someone prevented from committing suicide in one place would go somewhere else. It studied people who attempted suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge from 1937 to 1971 and found that more than 90 percent were still alive in 1978 or had died of natural causes.
I never saw Kyle depressed. He was a very positive and active kid all of his life. If you asked anyone who knew Kyle, even his closest friends, they would tell you that Kyle would be the very last person on their list of people who would even consider suicide. People come from all over the country to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge. And their deaths impact their friends and families no matter where they live.
For 60 years, the directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, never agreed to build one. But as the numbers of suicides continue to rise and the numbers of those people being young, like Kyle, the directors will vote once again on using toll money in addition to federal and state funds for a the barrier.
This barrier can be built and dozens of lives saved each year if funding is approved from state and federal budgets. The suicide barrier will prevent the continuing devastation and loss of losing a loved one to the Golden Gate Bridge. Please sign my petition asking state lawmakers to approve funding for the suicide prevention barrier.