Bridge Rail Foundation

Restricting Accessing to Lethal Means - Effectiveness

When it comes to bridges, and specifically to the Golden Gate Bridge, any kind of deterrent is effective in preventing suicides. Some people intent on killing themselves by jumping off the bridge haven’t done it simply because they couldn’t find a parking place at Vista Point. Others have turned back because they arrived at the bridge late enough in the day that the pedestrian walkway was closed. One 31-year-old housewife spent nearly an hour trying to lift her leg over the short railing and was impeded by the fact that she was wearing a tight skirt and was too modest to take it off (eventually, she was noticed and escorted off the bridge).

For many years, the most popular method of killing yourself in England was sticking your head in the oven and turning on the gas. After oil and natural gas deposits were discovered in the North Sea, however, the majority of English homes converted from coal gas, which has a high carbon monoxide content, to natural gas, which is cheaper and much less toxic. With the conversion, the country’s overall suicide rate decreased by 26 percent and has stayed there. When it was no longer possible to die by breathing oven fumes, people didn’t resort to another means.

In 1996, the Australian government banned automatic and semi-automatic firearms after 35 people were killed in a shooting rampage. The result was that the number of firearm suicides dropped in half and the number of suicides by other means didn’t increase. 

In every instance where easy access has been reduced at a popular suicide site, it has reduced or ended the problem. In the case of bridges, there hasn't been an increase in suicides from neighboring bridges and there also hasn't been an increase in local suicides by other means.

It’s hard to understand this if you’ve never been in the frame of mind to kill yourself, but many suicidal people have a preferred means of death. If that means isn’t available to them, they don’t resort to another means; instead, they resign themselves to living.

If you or someone you know is in a suicidal crisis,

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800-273-TALK

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Bridge Rail Foundation is a tax-exempt non-profit dedicated to stopping suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge, and other suicide prone public facilities. We need your support to get the word out.

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Journalism Awards for GGB Suicide Coverage