Bridge Rail Foundation

Golden Gate Bridge Suicides - Demographics

More than 40,000 people die by suicide in the United States every year. By comparison, about 18,000 people in this country are murdered annually.

The majority of Americans who die by suicide—more than 60 percent—use a firearm. Other means such as pills, hanging, and jumps are less common, but by no means rare.

Bridge jumpers in general are younger than people who kill themselves by other means, and this is true for the Golden Gate Bridge as well. The average age of Golden Gate Bridge jumpers is under 40, and more than 10 percent are in their teens.

Despite the common belief that people come from all over the world to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge, in fact 85 percent of bridge jumpers live within an hour’s drive of the bridge, and 92 percent live in California. Less than 8 percent are from out of state or abroad.

The Marin County Coroner’s Office is responsible for handling the deaths of most Golden Gate Bridge jumpers because the Coast Guard station that retrieves nearly all of the bodies is in Marin County. According to a 15-year report that the coroner’s office released, the most common occupation of Golden Gate Bridge jumpers is student. The second most common is teacher.

Jumpers fall 220 feet in four seconds at a speed of 75 miles per hour—equivalent to a pedestrian being struck by a car that is traveling that fast. Most die on impact, but 5 percent survive the fall and end up drowning. Their last few seconds are filled with terror and agonizing pain as their bodies are broken and internal organs are shattered.

A handful of people—fewer than 35—have survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge. Nearly every one said afterward that they wanted to live as soon as they went over the side. In addition, they didn’t have a backup plan for killing themselves. It was the Golden Gate Bridge or nothing.

Most survivors of a jump have been young—in their teens or early twenties. They said they chose the bridge thinking that it would be a quick and near-certain way to die. Also, loved ones would be spared the horror of finding their bodies. The fact that there was easy access—parking lots at both ends of the bridge, a pedestrian walkway that was open year-round, and a railing that was only four-feet-high—aided their decision. The setting and dark history of the bridge were the final lure. Suicide sites develop a certain magnetism, and no site is more beautiful or has drawn more depressed and suicidal people to it than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Age

Residency

14-24—14.24% Bay Area—83.39%
25-44—44.85% Alameda—8.15%
45-64—34.85% Contra Costa—6.58%
65+—4.85% Marin*—15.67%
Unknown—1.21% Napa*—0.94%
San Francisco*—26.33%

Race

San Mateo—6.90%
African American—4.24% Santa Clara—9.40%
Asian—10.00% Solano—3.46%
Hispanic—3.94% Sonoma*—5.96%
White—80.30%
Other—0.91% Other No. Calif—7.52%
Unknown—0.61% So. Calif—1.88%
Other US—6.27%

Sex

Out of US —0.94%
Female—25.76%
Male—74.24% *GGB Counties—48.90%
Source: Marin County Coroner's Records 1994—2009

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