1978: The popularity of the Golden Gate Bridge with would-be suicides has been attributed to the bridge’s fame, to copycat behaviour, to the likelihood that a leap from the bridge will be fatal (very few people survive the impact with the water far below), and to the ease with which those intent on suicide can get over the bridge’s guard rails (which are little more than waist-high).
Between 28 May 1937, when the bridge opened, and 1 April 1978, the number of people “officially” reported to have jumped to their deaths from the bridge was 625. Perhaps another 200 deadly leaps took place “unofficially”, unseen and unreported. On a less grim note, between the opening of the bridge and the end of 1971, 515 suicide attempts were thwarted.
In the journal Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, Richard Seiden followed up these failed attempts and discovered that while some individuals had gone on to kill themselves or had died by other violent means, approximately 90 per cent were still alive at the time of his study or had died of natural causes. This disproved, in Seiden’s eyes, the “common sense” argument that suicide prevention barriers were pointless since those contemplating suicide would “just go someplace else”.
Source: Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, Winter 1978