The original design of the bridge contained a tall railing to help prevent suicides, but the architect decided to lower it to make the view more scenic. In his words, the bridge was “practically suicide proof” and suicide was “neither possible nor probable.”
He was, tragically, very wrong.
Since its construction, the bridge has been used for a startling number of suicides; a foundation established to prevent these deaths estimates that over 1,600 people have committed suicide off the bridge. A police sergeant who patrolled the bridge for 23 years claims to have coaxed around 200 people out of jumping.
The first known suicide occurred 10 weeks after the bridge was opened. Two years later in 1939, activists rallied to get a barrier constructed, but were defeated by the Board of Supervisors who governed the bridge.
Finally, in June of 2014, the bridge’s board of directors approved a $76 million project to install a steel net under the bridge. After years of delay, and costs almost doubling, the net is on track to finally be installed, with the hopes of bringing the Golden Gate suicide rate down to zero.