- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2017

Construction will soon begin on a nearly two-mile long “suicide deterrent” beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, officials said Thursday, signaling the start of a multimillion-dollar effort expected to save dozens of lives on an annual basis.

Workers will begin preliminary work next month on a steel net about 20 feet below the span’s sidewalk, resolving years of debate involving the landmark’s unfortunate status as a magnet for suicidal bridge jumpers, said the Golden Gate Bridge, Transportation and Highway District.

The 1.7-mile suicide deterrent, as it’s called, is expected to be finished in 2021 at a cost of $211 million, officials said at a commemoration ceremony Thursday in San Francisco. Previous estimates had put the cost of the project at a comparable meager $76 million.

“People would say to us, ‘Isn’t that a lot of money for a barrier? For a net?’ ” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said at the ceremony. “And I would say, ‘No it’s not a lot of money for a life — for all of these lives.’ “

The structure will consist of steel cables extending 20 feet out and under from the bridge on either side during the duration of its span across the Golden Gate strait.

“The concept behind the suicide deterrent is that the people who come here don’t actually want to hurt themselves, they want to end their lives, and when you see a hard stainless steel platform two stories down that you will hit when you jump off the sidewalk, that’s going to stop you from jumping at all,” said Priya Clemens, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

“We would expect it will break bones. They will be hurt,” she added.

Officials expect the structure will save the lives of dozens. Thirty-nine people jumped to their deaths from the bridge during 2016, and over 1,500 are believed to have committed suicide at the bridge since it opened in 1937.

Nine-in-10 people who attempt suicide and survive will ultimately not die by suicide, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study cited by bridge officials.

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