Dual-purpose telephones on the Golden Gate Bridge

by Matthew Gast

Related link: http://www.goldengatebridge.org/



As a resident of San Francisco, I see the Golden Gate Bridge a few times a week. Sometimes I see it peeking out from behind the Presidio when driving north. If I'm lucky, I see from a window seat on an airplane departing from the San Francisco airport on a clear day. The bridge is an icon for the city, and is famous throughout the world. What I didn't realize is that, at least according to The New Yorker, it is "the world's leading suicide location." For the most part, it's not readily apparent, though there is a stark reminder at every call box along the bridge:

image

I guess I hadn't realized quite how (in)famous the bridge was. Metroactive says that a death has happened, on average, once every two weeks since the bridge opened in the 1930s. I wasn't aware of the magnitude because the media stopped reporting on suicides in the 1990s, before I moved to the area.

4 Comments

Jonathan Gennick
2005-06-10 07:13:30
Sidewalks on the bridge
I envy the sidewalks on the Golden Gate. You get an awesome view from just walking out on the bridge. We have the Mackinac Bridge near where I live, but no sidewalks and, of course, no one's allowed to walk out on it (but for a few hours once per year).
Inkling
2005-06-10 13:25:11
Bypassing SF Politicians
If San Francisco's politicians don't care about those who jump off the bridge, perhaps we can learn from how NYC's Tammey Hall was defeated. Almost no one in NYC politics wanted to improve the city's housing for the poor, so reformers went to the state legislature and passed laws that only applied to NYC.


It's stupid to make suicide this easy. California could require all bridges with a drop of over 200 feet to have effective suicide barriers.


--Mike Perry Untangling Tolkien

adamsj
2005-06-12 08:26:08
Why bash San Fran?
The Golden Gate bridge is administered by the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway, and Transportation District--that's four and two-half counties. The city of San Francisco does not, to the best of my knowledge, have any direct control over the bridge.


See here for further details.

GordonMeyer
2005-06-15 13:08:33
Bypassing SF Politicians
There are plenty of easy ways to commit suicide, and the iconic nature of the bridge prevents both politicians, and the citizenry, from wanting to deface it with barriers.