Comparison between Golden Gate Bridge suicides and other jumpers on Charley

Out of curiosity, I checked out the jumpers on this week’s list and compared them to the Golden Gate Bridge jumpers I have listed. I chose to include only those where either the cops specifically said they were sure the person had jumped, or there was a witness or the person’s stuff was found in the water. I left out those who merely left their car parked near the bridge, though I’m sure many of those also died there.

There were 21 names and as far as ages are concerned, they just about corresponded with the other list: most of them young, seven in their twenties, four in their teens (two of them only fifteen, sigh). However, in the previous list, there were almost as many females as males. Not so with the GGB list: eighteen males and only three females.

According to John Bateson’s wonderful book on the subject of Golden Gate Bridge suicides, three-quarters of the jumpers are male. 3 of 21 is only fourteen percent, though. But I suppose the additional difference might be explained by the fact that that male bodies, being heavier, might sink deeper and be less likely to be found than female ones, which is why they would appear on Charley. Just a hypothesis, mind.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: put up a barrier already. People are dying while you complain about it ruining your precious view.

22 thoughts on “Comparison between Golden Gate Bridge suicides and other jumpers on Charley

  1. Mion March 24, 2014 / 6:33 pm

    The barrier should be installed immediately. There shouldn’t even be an argument.

    If jumpers were a very rare occurrence (say, one or two suicides/attempted suicides a year), then I’d be more sympathetic to the anti-barrier crowd. But this ISN’T a rare occurrence – there have been 1,600 confirmed suicides on the bridge since it was first opened to the public, and an average of 120 people every year go to the bridge with the intention to commit suicide.

    That 1,600 number is only the *confirmed* suicides. Many of these jumpers’ bodies aren’t found, many cases aren’t counted as Golden Gate Bridge suicides due to lack of evidence, and many of these jumpers aren’t even reported missing in the first place for various reasons. I would be shocked if the total number DOESN’T exceed 2,000.

    And I’m so, so sick of the ”But it would ruin the view” argument. When you say that, you’re basically saying that your pretty view over the San Francisco Bay is worth more than the lives of those 120 people who go to the bridge every year to kill themselves. These are PREVENTABLE deaths, for Christ’s sake.

    Sadly, I’m not sure if a barrier will be installed unless something big happens. Something like a suicide pact/mass suicide. Or a celebrity, politician, or child of someone very important jumping off the bridge (or at least trying to). Only then will people give a crap.

    Then again, we couldn’t even get something as sensible as universal background checks passed after 20 kids and 6 adults were gunned down by someone who shouldn’t have been within 100 feet of a firearm. So who knows…

    • Meaghan March 25, 2014 / 4:21 am

      Well said, Mion. I always appreciate your comments because you’re so well-spoken.

      My theory is that people simply don’t care about the suicides, because of the stigma that still attaches to the act. They figure the dead person was a selfish moron and deserved what they got, and why should we go to the trouble of trying to stop them if they’re going to be an idiot like that.

      Not that I agree with that. I’ve got severe clinical depression. I’m very lucky I don’t have anything resembling the Golden Gate Bridge roundabouts where I live, or I probably wouldn’t be here now.

    • boondockmom March 26, 2014 / 2:56 am

      Actually you have to think of the lethality of the bridge jumps. 98% lethality. Yet if someone attempts suicide with poison (in San Francisco rates) less than 8% would die! Because , given time, many people reconsider what they have done. They don’t want to die but they do want the pain to stop. And yes, not all can be saved but a large study with also 50,000 people who survived a suicide attempt found only 12% went on to die by suicide. A very small study of less than 100 people showed only 13% went on to die by suicide.

      And imagine the ones who survive a jump from a five story building or survive the gunshot to the head or heart, disabled for the rest of their lives

  2. Crystal March 25, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    I’ve suffered with depression for decades, ever since I was a child, and I am firmly anti-barrier. If people want to jump, that’s their business. Each person’s life is their own and if they don’t want to live it that’s their choice.

  3. Becky March 25, 2014 / 3:50 pm

    I gotta agree with no barrier. The reason is I don’t think it is a spur of the moment decision of people who happen to be crossing the bridge. People GO TO the bridge to do it. If a barrier is put up, they will simply go elsewhere.

    • Meaghan March 25, 2014 / 4:19 pm

      That is a common misconception. See my reply to Angie at https://charleyross.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/make-a-list-monday-other-jumpers/#comments on how it’s usually incorrect.

      Suicidal people choose to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge because it’s “special”: it’s beautiful, it’s a national monument. Nearby is the Bay Bridge, which is equally high off the water and equally lethal to jump off of — but no one jumps off the Bay Bridge. In fact, people en route to the GGB will often drive over the Bay Bridge to get there, and it never occurs to them to jump off.

      Some suicidal people would, undoubtedly, try some other way. But they’d be hard pressed to find a method as quick, easy and spectacularly lethal as the GGB. Other common methods, such as pills or cutting, are harder to do, take longer and are less likely to kill you.

  4. Crystal March 25, 2014 / 4:49 pm

    Let’s put barriers on every bridge and ledge worldwide and ban the sale of knives, guns, rope, shoelaces, gas ovens, pain killers, automobiles, and anything else a person might use to bring about their own demise.

    Or let’s accept that there will always be suicides as long as there are people and putting a barrier on a bridge won’t change squat.

    • Meaghan March 25, 2014 / 5:01 pm

      If we refused to do anything about a problem simply because we knew we couldn’t entirely eliminate it, nothing would ever get done. We cannot, for example, entirely eliminate death through bacterial infection. No matter how hard we try there will always be some infection deaths. But that hasn’t stopped us from investing in such things as antibiotics, public health measures, etc., to considerably reduce the rate of infection-related deaths.

      In the long run, we didn’t “save” anyone because all those people who would have died of an infection inevitably go on to die of something else. But I’ve never heard anyone argue that we should just give up medicines and hand-washing and public sanitation just because we can’t save everyone.

  5. Crystal March 25, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    You’re talking about limiting deaths brought about by the spread of disease vs.limiting deaths of people who are determined to kill themselves. Apples and oranges.

    If someone wants to die he’ll die, one way or the other.

  6. lred March 25, 2014 / 5:09 pm

    As a former historian i can understand people not wanting to have a barrier, but as mentioned, people go there specifically to die. The bridge will still be beautiful with better measures in place.

  7. Crystal March 25, 2014 / 5:10 pm

    And people will just go jump off the other bridge.

    • forthelost March 25, 2014 / 6:43 pm

      But they don’t. They ignore the bridge that’s the same height they have to pass by to jump off the famous one.

      • Crystal March 25, 2014 / 9:49 pm

        And as soon as a barrier is put up on the Golden Gate they’ll jump off the other high bridge, instead.

    • JR April 3, 2014 / 8:48 pm

      The other bridge has no pedestrian access, so the other bridge- The Bay Bridge- is just not an option. You can’t get on the bridge on foot and you can’t just pull over, there’s no where to do so. I’ve been stuck on the Bay Bridge after a minor accident has occurred because there’s no where to go.

      Logically, one would assume that if a person wants to jump off a bridge then they’ll just find a bridge. And failing that bridge, another. Research actually supports that if you deter them from the bridge that they initially settle on, they generally do not attempt to jump from another bridge. It’s not a bridge mechanism in general, its specific fixation on GG Bridge because its one of the few high bridges left in the world that allows unfettered pedestrian access.

      I live in Seattle and drive on the Aurora Bridge every day. There is a jump barrier on the bridge and no one has attempted to jump from the bridge since it went up. Previous to that, there were multiple deaths every year.

  8. forthelost March 25, 2014 / 11:54 pm

    And they didn’t jump off the first one because…

    • boondockmom March 26, 2014 / 2:56 am

      Because there isn’t a walkway, oh wait, the new span has one!

      • Crystal March 26, 2014 / 7:50 am

        Let’s state the obvious–of the two bridges, Golden Gate is the more “glamorous”, romanticized place to jump. So if there’s a choice, more suicides who are romanticizing their own demise will jump from Golden Gate. We all get it.

        If a barrier is put up it won’t stop those who are seriously determined to die–they’ll just find another way. These people often plan their deaths at length and, once they are ready, won’t be dissuaded.

        For those who might jump from Golden Gate as a more spur of the moment thing–a big F U world!–go to it. As long as a suicide doesn’t take another person or people with him, it’s his business if he doesn’t want to live.

      • boondockmom April 10, 2014 / 2:36 am

        The GGB is chosen because there is a walkway and people seldom stop their car, cross to the walkway and jump, which is what is required on the SFOBB previously.

        People are often ambivalent about their choice, which you can see if you watch the movie “The Bridge”, and is noted by witnesses that indicate people are seen wandering or pacing before they jump.

        Suicide is more about a person feeling they have a lack of options and feel dying is the only option they have to stop the pain they are in. That is in direct relationship to the stigma associated with mental illness and suicidal ideation. People feel ashamed and afraid.

        Suicide is not “romanticized” – ask anyone who jumped and survived. Google Kevin Hines – he jumped and lived and shares his story.

        A study found that of almost 50,000 people who attempted suicide and survived, the most that ended up dying by suicide were 12% – so 88% of those who survived their attempt died by anything OTHER than suicide.

        Hell, one woman who jumped from the GGB at age of 17 is still alive at age 95! so she never found another way, did she?

        People who don’t care to understand mental health or illness perpetuate the stigma associated with them and with the issue of suicide, create that big FU world.

        With an attitude like that, do you think anyone would tell you how they feel? Do you actually say those things out loud? If you had a friend who was depressed and feeling suicidal, do you think they would tell you, knowing how you think?

        get the facts – get informed – because you may make a huge difference – between life and death – of someone you love.

  9. Celeste March 27, 2014 / 1:00 am

    There were a lot of suicides off of the Bloor Viaduct in Toronto. The governing powers of the city put up an elaborate barricade that probably won’t stop people from jumping elsewhere. 😦

    • Meaghan March 27, 2014 / 7:54 am

      I’ve studied suicides at length and read over thirty books on the subject, and even corresponded briefly with Thomas Joiner, a psychology professor who studies suicide for a living. I can tell you (from both my studies and personal experience) that most suicidal people have a specific method in mind, and if that method becomes unavailable, oftentimes they won’t even try. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if putting up a barrier at the Bloor Viaduct reduced the overall number of suicides in the area.

      • boondockmom April 10, 2014 / 2:48 am

        You are correct Meaghan! A study was done that reviewed 4 years before and after the barrier was put in place. In the 4 years after the barrier was up, suicides in the region declined by 28 deaths per year, though suicides by jumping did not change. Clearly the issue is about access to lethal means, and jumping from a high place is easier than obtaining a gun.

  10. janetgalea78 April 10, 2014 / 1:15 pm

    We went to Coronado this weekend….the bridge there has a sign at the start of the bridge and in several places with a telephone number Suicide Prevention….very, very low rails. Put up the damn net on the GGB. Enough already! People are more important than the iconic “look”

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