Just three months after the bridge, which was opened in 1937, a man jumped off. To date, another 1,300 people have chosen to end their lives by jumping off the bridge.
This sad statistic, which it was revealed last week, has prompted the Bay Area's transportation committee to take final action. Now, more than 70 years later, the committee will consider the redesign of the guard rails.
The guard rails stand only 4 feet (1.2 m) high. They were designed not to obstruct the view. At the current height, there is no real physical barrier to prevent the loss of people contemplating suicide at this site.
On average, thirty suicides occur each year. Security cameras, bike patrols and hot-line phones prevent some but not all attempts. These have been placed along the sidewalks.
Five million in federal funds has been raised to engineer and design a suicide barrier, a steel net, which will be suspended 20 feet below the bridge to catch and cocoon jumpers in midair.
Much of the resistance to this plan comes from purists who are opposed to changing the design. They love their bridge and don't want it changed.
The original architect designed a higher rail but the builder, who was short, insisted on the shorter railing. Considering aesthetics ahead of saving lives is pretty heartless.
Soon the Golden Gate Bridge will join the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and other world landmarks, which are fitted with protective barriers, in the prevention of suicide.
Adapted from — Webley, Kayla. "Why is the Bay Area Building a Suicide Barrier?" TIME US. 03 Aug 2010. Web. 02 Jan 2014. <http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2008158,00.html>.