San Diego More than 400 people have given up their lives jumping from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge since 1969 — with 98 in the past six years. San Diego and Coronado have become hosts to a suicide magnet that is now averaging 16 deaths per year. This is a humanitarian disaster and a growing public relations nightmare that is causing a significant loss in business and tourism productivityto our region. We must end this — and we can successfully do so within a month’s time and for less than $25,000.
Let me explain how:
The Golden Gate Bridge — the most frequently used location for suicide — is installing nets to dissuade jumpers at a cost of $204 million. Studies for a San Diego-Coronado Bridge solution range from $5 million (thistle barrier of spikes) to $137 million (transparent glass barrier). Where will this money come from? Is the cost-benefit analysis worth it? Will it ever happen? I’m doubtful.
So what’s the appropriate response? Do we continue allowing 16 people to needlessly die each year? Continue the endless bridge shutdowns, traffic meltdowns, and resultant loss to regional productivity? (The bridge was closed 35 times for suicide attempts in 2016.)
I say “no.” And I propose the perfect “temporary emergency solution” until a permanent one is ready for implementation.
As an artist who works with barbwire, I know firsthand barbwire to be vicious, violent, intimidating, and unforgiving. And yet, it is highly effective. No one wants to tangle with barbwire.
Our bridge, on the other hand, is the ultimate suicide convenience stop for desperate souls — hit brakes, open door, step over a 34-inch mini-wall, jump. Should an impromptu life-exit for troubled persons be so easy?
The problem can be easily rectified by making the jump far more difficult. (Suicidal thoughts are often impulsive and fleeting — without an impromptu life-exit handily available, many of these troubled people will regain control and live out productive and fruitful lives.) Specifically, I propose a taut barrier of five strands of barbwire running horizontally above the current barrier and fastened to the existing light-poles. Bridges with added barriers have seen suicides decline by 79 – 91 percent.
The San Diego-Coronado Bridge spans nearly two miles, but only about one mile warrants suicide prevention. Two sides means two miles, times five strands, equals 10 miles of barbwire. With barbwire, ties, stabilizing rods, bird prevention reflectors, and miscellaneous items, material costs will be under $5,000. Running and tying barbwire is quick — labor would be under $20,000. The total job cost would be under $25,000.