Golden Gate Bridge suicides

On the Charley Project I have many people who have probably jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and were never found. I found this article about Golden Gate Bridge suicides, which mentions Matthew Chase Whitmer, a young man with schizoaffective disorder who jumped off the bridge in 2007. His mother has a website about him and other Bridge suicides; she is lobbying for the authorities to put up an anti-suicide barrier.

The main arguments against the barrier which I have seen is that it would cost money, and it would be unsightly. This is absurd. A barrier probably save a dozen lives, at least, every year.

The argument that “they would just go kill themselves somewhere else” doesn’t really hold water. A lot of suicides are impulsive acts and if someone attempts, or is going to attempt, to kill themselves and gets prevented the first time, they often don’t try again anytime soon. In fact, Casey Joanna Brooks is known to have approached the bridge at night not long before her suicide, and was stopped because there was a pedestrian gate that was locked during the nighttime hours. Later (it was either days or weeks, I forget), she returned during the day and jumped.

Also, the Golden Gate Bridge is such a famous and beautiful place that it attracts suicides. There’s another bridge not too far away which would be just as lethal to jump from, but very few people do.

I suspect that the California Department of Justice MP database has more suspected Golden Gate Bridge suicides than I know of. I usually only find about about the probable suicide through reading a mention on the database, but the fact that the MP was probably a bridge jumper is not always mentioned in the file. Casey Brooks, for example, is listed as a “runaway juvenile” in spite of the fact that her jump was witnessed. (I found out the true cause of her disappearance from other sources.) I actually called the DOJ hotline number about that — I think Casey’s family would be really upset if they heard of her classification — but nothing was done.

23 thoughts on “Golden Gate Bridge suicides

  1. Jaime May 29, 2011 / 10:06 am

    How awful. I believe I read a while back about a bridge in Washington state that many people jump from. People in an office building I believe are lobbying for a suicide barrier for that bridge because the employees say it is too hard to watch so many people jump from this bridge. I cant remember where I read this though.

    • Will May 29, 2011 / 2:02 pm

      You must mean the Aurora Bridge. The trouble with that bridge is that not everybody would hit the water. Back in the day, it was mostly warehouses under there so no one would usually notice a jumper, but now there are a lot of restaurants and tech companies and people would sometimes land in parking lots or on top of other people’s cars. Companies would have to call in counselors for the people who had the misfortune to witness it.

      There’s a barrier up now, they just finished it a couple months ago . They’ve also had emergency phones and signs up there a few years; I don’t know how much good those did.

      • Jaime May 30, 2011 / 7:03 am

        Thanks for the answer.

  2. Princess Shantae May 29, 2011 / 10:42 am

    I read one time where there was an apartment complex in Japan that had so many people jumping off of it to kill themselves that they strung nets up over the walkways, not to save the jumpers so much as to protect people walking below from getting landed on and hurt.
    The barrier on the bridge might stop a few people from jumping off that particular bridge, but its just like a Bandaid, it doesn’t realy solve the problem.
    You say that if a suicide is caught and stopped they often don’t try again for a long time. Well, not realy true. I forget the number but a big percent of suicides have made attempts many times before in the past.

    • Meaghan May 29, 2011 / 10:46 am

      I don’t mean they don’t “for a long time.” I just mean they’re not going to try somewhere else immediately, and in the meantime they might get help. There are usually at least days between attempts, and often weeks or longer. Of course we should try to stop people from wanting to attempt suicide in the first place, but being able to thwart the attempts will also save lives.

      I speak from experience here. I tried to slash my wrists at home alone when I was 14. I finally quit cutting because it hurt so bad — the knife was dull. There were many other means of death at my disposal — the medicine cabinet, my brother’s guns, etc., but I didn’t even consider them. I was like, “Oh well, to hell with that.”

    • Princess Shantae May 29, 2011 / 7:08 pm

      This Aurora Bridge, is it the one that Anne Rule wrote about in one of her books? Some crazy guy got on a bus and when they got onto the bridge he got up, went up to the driver and shot and killed him and then himself. The bus went out of control and off of the bridge and an elderly gentleman on the bridge was also killed.

      • Will June 1, 2011 / 9:49 pm

        Yep, that would be the one. It’s had a checkered history.

  3. Marcy May 29, 2011 / 1:52 pm

    I just watched a movie on this topic called The Bridge. It was worth watching, even beyond the shock value. A team filmed the bridge daily over 2004 and captured all but one of the suicides–I think the total was between 30 and 40. You can see several of the people acting rather normally before the jump. One guy even makes three phone calls, laughing. They also talk to someone who jumped and survived, and one man who stopped someone from jumping. After watching this film, I have no doubt that the barrier would save lives–several of the suicides seemed somewhat impulsive, and none of the people who attempted and failed tried again.

    • Meaghan May 31, 2011 / 12:42 am

      I think in the London Underground they have cameras or computers or something specifically designed to stop people from jumping onto the subway tracks. Apparently they act a certain way, approach the tracks and then back off several times, etc. The system is supposed to alert a security officer who will go and help them.

    • Jaclyn March 22, 2019 / 1:02 am

      Marcy, Yes this is a very interesting movie. Well done, for a subject that is so heart-breaking.

  4. Audrey May 29, 2011 / 3:40 pm

    Allison Bayliss, 15, left school in San Ramon on May 23 and rode her bike to San Francisco, at the base of the bridge. They have footage of her walking onto the bridge, and none of her walking off. Not sure if anyone saw her jump. They haven’t found her body.

    • Meaghan May 31, 2011 / 12:38 am

      At this point, I doubt they ever will. Poor kid.

  5. jen May 29, 2011 / 11:22 pm

    Yes. You need to watch The Bridge. Here is a snippet. Very disturbing. This guy wanted to jump from a bridge in St Louis too. I think people are just drawn to a certain type of end.

  6. amy May 30, 2011 / 12:03 am
  7. Tiffany Marie May 30, 2011 / 2:36 am

    The Bridge is a very interesting watch indeed.

    I can honestly say as a formerly suicidal person that there’s a lot of allure in The Golden Gate Bridge and I do think that alone contributes to a lot of the deaths.

    It’s simply put a beautiful and iconic place. In my own case I was extremely depressed to the point of being hopeless. This was largely due to my being transgendered and A: not being able to come to terms with it and B: being afraid to tell my family and friends.

    I’m happy since coming to terms with who and what I am earlier this year and finding support from my loved one, but prior to that I was seriously contemplating ending my life and the one and only place I wanted to do so was at The Golden Gate Bridge.

    I was at the point of researching cheap ways to get to San Francisco and ideal times of the day to make the jump.

    A barrier would pay huge dividends and it’s my sincere hope that they somehow realize this and do something about it.

  8. amy May 31, 2011 / 12:26 am

    Yesterday I thought I had posted several Doe network links on here to other suspected Golden Gate jumpers and 4 UIDs found under the bridge. There are quite a lot of them. I also found an article listing most of the jumpers- date, sex etc with names for those prior to 93 that they have recovered. After 1993, names were no longer listed. It’s sad just to look at how many people have taken that route.

    • Meaghan May 31, 2011 / 12:35 am

      Can you send me a copy of the article? I would really like to see it.

  9. Justin September 25, 2012 / 5:55 pm

    I sent an email to the CDOJ asking for them to add a section to her profile under “Other Identifiers” like they have with another Golden Gate Bridge jumper John Pavlat, who has a webpage with them at http://dojapp.doj.ca.gov/missing/detail.asp?FCN=4670302900251 and is on your site at http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/p/pavlat_john.html and hopefully, they will do so since the term “Runaway Juvenile” is sort of misleading. But considering that they have nine report types for missing persons, that description is the closest they could come to.

    • Meaghan September 25, 2012 / 6:36 pm

      Lost/Injured Missing would be better.

      • Justin September 26, 2012 / 10:46 pm

        Just got an email back from the CDOJ. They added a bit more to her site at http://dojapp.doj.ca.gov/missing/detail.asp?FCN=3270802900188 but instead of stating that they have video of her jumping off the bridge, they just say that “Her vehicle was found parked on the Golden Gate Bridge”. Not quite the same thing, but when someone abandons their car by the Golden Gate Bridge, that almost always means they jumped.

      • Meaghan September 27, 2012 / 3:59 am

        Better than nothing, I guess.

  10. nicole malo December 18, 2013 / 11:36 am

    I had been just surfing the internet one day when I came across a clip titled the golden gate jumpers. I watched it. To my horror I had never even known this was an issue. I live all the way across the united states but still id never heard about this. It is absolutely ridiculous that nothing has been done to try to save these people. I have put a lot of man hours researching and studying all I can find about the suicides at the golden gate bridge. I want to help. Even tbough I live no where near california. I am from rhode island. I feel I have to help. I think we should all start by getting this out there. This country needs to know what a problem this is. Once new light has been shed on this situation maybe head honchos would then be inclined to actually do something about it. Instead of pondering how to do it and where to get money for the suicide barrier for the neext decade to come. When will the number be considered to high

  11. Justin June 14, 2014 / 1:48 pm

    New Yorker Article
    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/10/13/031013fa_fact?currentPage=all

    There was a study called “Where Are They Now?” published in 1978, which followed up on five hundred and fifteen people who were prevented from attempting suicide at the bridge between 1937 and 1971. After, on average, more than twenty-six years, ninety-four per cent of the would-be suicides were either still alive or had died of natural causes.

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