Whites and Men Most Likely to Jump From Golden Gate Bridge

Bay City News
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:11:00 PM

Caucasians comprise 80 percent of the people who jump to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge and men outnumber women 3-1, according to a report issued today by Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes regarding suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge over the past 15 years. 

The report is based on the coroner’s office’s public files of 330 deaths from the bridge between July 1, 1994, and June 30 of this year. 

The report does not contain data from coroner and medical examiner offices that find the remains of people who jump from the bridge, Holmes said. 

A complete study would require records from counties along bay shores and the Pacific Coast between Mendocino and Santa Barbara counties, Holmes said. 

“Further, a methodology to include confirmed suicides where no body is recovered must be developed to complete the picture,” Holmes said.  

The new study, released in conjunction with the Bridge Rail Foundation that has advocated raising the height of the railing on the bridge to prevent suicide attempts, reinforces and expands observations Holmes made in a 2007 study regarding the demographics of those who jumped from the bridge. 

Over 90 percent of the people who jump from the bridge are from Northern California and 80 percent are from the nine Bay Area counties, Holmes said. Forty-two percent of those who committed suicide are from Marin or San Francisco counties. 

There is an average of about two dozen suicides a year, the coroner’s office said. 

The median age of those who jump to their deaths from the en Gate Bridge is 40, the report states. Fifty-six percent of those who have jumped never married. 

Holmes said, however, the new study “exposes a hidden horror in the Golden Gate Bridge suicide story—the public witnesses most of these deaths. 

“Tourists, commuters, adults, children and people working on the Bridge report seeing over 70 percent of all suicides from the famous span,” Holmes said. 

“And that’s just people who speak with authorities. I suspect the actual number of witnesses is much greater,” Holmes said in a news release. 

“The Bridge District cried foul when filmmaker Eric Steel recorded the deaths in 2004, yet they see little urgency in resolving this ongoing problem,” Holmes said. 

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Mary Currie took issue with Holmes this morning. 

“I’m not going to address the allegations but the district is clearly moving as quickly as possible toward a suicide barrier,” Currie said. 

The district’s Board of Directors voted in October to install a net system under the bridge to deter suicides. 

Currie said the final environmental impact report on the net system is due for public release this month but the district must still find $50 million for the project. 

“Seventy percent of those who come to the bridge to harm themselves are stopped by our patrols. I can’t confirm that 70 percent of suicides are witnessed. We don’t hear much from them,” Currie said. 

Currie said the bridge district and state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, are hoping to secure private funding for the net project. 

Ammiano’s spokesman Quintin Mecke said this afternoon the assemblyman would appreciate private funding but “the primary focus is federal funding.” 

“There is no coordinated effort to get private funding. There’s nothing definitive,” Mecke said..