This week’s community meetings about a barrier to prevent suicides at the Coronado-San Diego Bay Bridge couldn’t be more timely: The last six years have seen an extraordinary and unexplained increase in jumps from the bridge.
The average annual number of suicides has more than doubled, and 2012’s death toll of 19 lives was the highest in the bridge’s nearly 50-year history. This year is on pace to reach or pass that number.
The bridge – with a death toll nearing 400 since 1969 – is poised to reach a morbid milestone. “If nothing is done soon,” Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey recently wrote, “the Coronado Bridge will experience more suicides and more closures from attempted suicides than any other bridge in our nation.”
He’s right. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, now the deadliest bridge in the United States, is installing steel nets designed to prevent suicides there. Many other bridges worldwide with major suicide problems have installed barriers to prevent deaths, and research suggests they work. But until now, local and state officials have barely discussed the idea of a Coronado Bridge barrier.
Picture-Perfect Bridge Soon Drew the Hopeless
The $50 million Coronado Bridge opened in 1969 and quickly became a postcard-perfect icon of sun and sea in San Diego. “The “span of blue steel … arches across the bay and clasps Coronado in the grip of modernity,” raved The New York Times.
It took just three years before someone toppled over the bridge’s 34-inch railing to her death. The victim didn’t want to kill herself, however. Her husband forced her over the edge and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Is this really a wise use of funds? Let's say it costs less than half of what the GG barrier cost - say $100 million to prevent less than 20 people a year from jumping (assuming a 100% success rate) . That assumes they all get to the bridge , see the barrier and say no I'm not jumping, i'm not committing suicide, I feel better - maybe I'll run for congress.
More importantly if we spent the same $100 million on mental health care or homeless ...could we save more or less than 20 people ($5 million per person?!?) .
@craig Nelson When I looked at the cost breakdown, I considered the cost that one bridge closure r/t a suicidal person threatening to jump costs the city. From the PERT team that has to be deployed, to the overtime that the harbor police have to pay their first responders and ambulance crews that are on standby on the pier ready to initiate CPR.. And then there is the Military whom is not able to start on time, with enlisted as well as civil servants loosing wages because they are late to work. And what about the Coronado Police Dept and CHP that have to stay until the police activity draws to a close?.. One estimate put a million dollar price tag on each attempt. @100 million that would be a million per person if 400 people have already jumped.. they cost the city, and navy 400 million. This permanent solution only costs 25% of that and ensures that the next one hundred people that try and use the bridge as their method of suicide, do not cost the city anything because the lethal methods access is restricted. Thanks for commenting! CoronadoBridge.Net
@Matty Azure We have spoken to Caltrans and to one of the companies that provides the type of steel netting we would use and they have both indicated that if a net system is chosen, it would prevent large debris and vehicles from leaving the bridge deck, landing below in Chicano Park, which is located within the unincorporated community of Barrio Logan, San Diego . CoronadoBridge.Net