(KRON/CNN) – An estimated 1,600 people have committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge since it opened 77 years ago. Now a plan to stop people from jumping is under consideration. On Friday, the bridge’s Board of Directors approved a $76 million funding plan for a suicide barrier net.
When it’s finished, the net will sit 20 feet below the road deck and extend 20 feet out from both sides of the bridge. The net will consist of support beams painted international orange, connected by a web of marine grade, unpainted stainless steel rope.
The net essentially served two purposes. First the hope is that the mere presence of a suicide barrier will deter people from jumping, according to Golden Gate Bridge General Manager Denis Mulligan.
“Where nets have been installed as suicide deterrents they have been 100 percent effective,” Mulligan said. “For whatever reason, suicidal people don't want to hurt themselves, they want to die so they stop jumping.”
And second, if someone does jump, they will get caught in the net, giving the bridge patrol and CHP time to move in and rescue them.
The design was chosen over the other options because it requires minimal alteration to the bridge and also doesn’t dramatically later the appearance of the span.
Mulligan says that from most angles, you won’t even be able to see it.
“If you're at Crissy Field looking at the bridge you will not see it,” Mulligan said. “If you're in the Marin Headlands looking at the bridge you will not see it. From the two vista points at the end of the bridge, you will see it; it will be in you view, rather prominent. When you drive across the bridge or ride your bike across the bridge you will not see the net. It will be below your view because it's down 20 feet.”
The funding plan includes $20 million from the reserves of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
The final piece of the funding puzzle is $7 million in state mental health funds.
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