Sign promoting a 24/7 crisis text line on the Golden Gate Bridge-commons
Between 1937 and 2012, an estimated 1,400 bodies were recovered of people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, located in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States.
The four-second fall from the Golden Gate Bridge sends a person plunging 245 feet (75 m) at 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) to hit the waters of the San Francisco Bay “with the force of a speeding truck meeting a concrete building.” Jumping off the bridge holds at least a 98 percent fatality rate; and it is speculated the fatality rate is actually higher than 98% because of people whose bodies are never found after they make the jump. As of 2013, it is estimated that 34 people have survived after jumping. Some die instantly from internal injuries, while others drown or die of hypothermia.The Golden Gate bridge’s death toll has since been surpassed only by that of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China. In 2013, 118 potential jumpers were talked down from their attempt and did not jump.
A number of measures are in place to discourage people from jumping, including telephone hotlines and patrols by emergency personnel and bridge workers. Although it had previously been considered impractical to build a suicide barrier, in 2014, the Bridge’s directors approved a proposal for a net below the bridge’s deck, extending out either side, rather than side barriers at the railings as had long been proposed.
The Golden Gate Bridge, referred to by Krista Tippett as a “suicide magnet”, is the second-most used suicide site/suicide bridge in the world, after the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge (see List of suicide sites). The deck is about 245 feet (75 m) above the water. After a fall of four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph (120 km/h). Most of the jumpers die due to impact trauma. About 5% of the jumpers survive the initial impact but generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water.
Most suicidal jumps from the bridge have occurred on the side facing the bay. The side facing the Pacific is closed to pedestrians.
An official suicide count was kept until the year 1995, sorted according to which of the bridge’s 128 lamp posts the jumper was nearest when he or she jumped.The official count ended on June 5, 1995 on the 997th jump; jumper No. 1000, Eric Atkinson , jumped on July 3, 1995. Earlier in 1995, a local shock jock had offered a case of Snapple to the family of the 1000th suicide victim. Consequently, Marin County coroner Ken Holmes asked local media to stop reporting the total number of jumpers. By 2012 the unofficial count exceeded 1,600 (in which the body was recovered or someone saw the jump) and new suicides were occurring about once every two weeks, according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis. The most suicides in one month were in August 2013, when 10 jumped. The total count for the year 2013 was 46, with an additional 118 attempts prevented, making it the year with the highest tally so far. The rate of incidence of attempts has risen to nearly one every other day. The youngest known jumper is 5-year-old Marilyn DeMont; in 1945, she was told to jump by her father who followed her.
For comparison, the reported third-most popular place to commit suicide in the world, Aokigahara Forest in Japan, has a record of 108 bodies, found within the forest in 2004, with an average of 30 a year. There were 34 bridge-jump suicides in 2006 whose bodies were recovered, in addition to four jumps that were witnessed but whose bodies were never recovered, and several bodies recovered suspected to be from bridge jumps. The California Highway Patrol removed 70 apparently suicidal people from the bridge that year.
There is no accurate figure on the number of suicides or completed jumps since 1937, because many were not witnessed. People have been known to travel to San Francisco specifically to jump off the bridge, and may take a bus or cab to the site; police sometimes find abandoned rental cars in the parking lot. Currents beneath the bridge are strong and some jumpers have more than likely been washed out to sea without being seen.
The fatality rate of jumping is roughly 98%. As of July 2013, only 34 people are known to have survived the jump. Those who do survive strike the water feet-first and at a slight angle, although individuals may still sustain broken bones or internal injuries. One young woman, Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum, survived, but returned to jump again and died the second time. One young man survived a jump in 1979, swam to shore, and drove himself to a hospital. The impact cracked several of his vertebrae.
He jumped off the golden gate bridge and lived to tell about it to help others
Engineering professor Natalie Jeremijenko, as part of her “Bureau of Inverse Technology” art collective, created a “Despondency Index” by correlating the Dow Jones Industrial Average with the number of jumpers detected by “Suicide Boxes” containing motion-detecting cameras, which she claimed to have set up under the bridge. The boxes purportedly recorded 17 jumps in three months, far greater than the official count. The Whitney Museum, although questioning whether Jeremijenko’s suicide-detection technology actually existed, nevertheless included her project in its prestigious Whitney Biennial.
Golden Gate Bridge as seen from below
An Approximate Total of 40 people Jumped Off the Golden State Bridge