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The Golden Gate Bridge, one of northern California’s main attractions, is said to see about 110,000 people a day. The 8,981 ft. suspension bridge was originally named after the “Golden Gate” strait, which is the body of water that sits below the bridge. What the majority of the bridge’s visitors have no idea about is that fact that the bridge is the number one suicide spot in America. Over 1,500 bodies have been pulled by the coast guard from the water below. Statistics say that “a person jumps to his or her death from it about every two weeks” (Tweedie). Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It takes over 38,000 lives a year in America, therefore making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for all ages across the country. There is about one death by suicide in America every 13 minutes and worldwide, over 1 million people die due to suicide every year. There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds, making suicide the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide. Could you imagine how many of these suicide have happened on the Golden Gate Bridge? Just imagine how many those deaths could have easily been prevented by taking some extra precautions and setting up such a simple thing like a safety barrier. This is why believe that the state of California should invest their money in creating a safety net or barrier around the Golden Gate Bridge.
The first reason i believe there should be a safety barrier around the bridge is because it would most likely very much decrease the amounts of suicides, like it did for many other important monuments and bridges around the world. The Empire State Building, the Duomo, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Sydney Harbor Bridge were all suicide magnets before barriers were built on them. “At Prince Edward Viaduct, in Toronto, the site of nearly five hundred jumps, engineers finished constructing four-million-dollars worth of steel rods above the railing” (Friend). At all of these locations, statistics show that after the barriers were made the number of jumpers went down to virtually zero.
Secondly, making the safety net would be important because it also would show to tourists that San Francisco truly cares about its visitors and residents mental health state. In Japan, there is a forest about 2 hours west of Tokyo called Aokigahara forest, also commonly known as the “suicide forest”, which is also widely known as the world’s second most popular suicide location, behind the Golden Gate Bridge. The forest is situated below the famous Mount Fuji and is such an intensely dense forest that it’s basically impossible to hear any sort of outside noise. It’s also incredibly unnerving to know that animals do not reside in the forest, not even birds. It’s pretty much completely silent in the forest, which is what the locals believe what drives people to suicide, that fact that it’s too quiet makes people go crazy. The reason it has the name “suicide forest” is because every year, many people wander in and are never seen ever again. “Annually about 70 corpses are found by volunteers who clean the woods, but many are forever lost in the very thick woods” (Puchko). As the number of bodies being found continued to rise, and the Japanese government wanted to show it’s people that it truly cared. “Police have mounted signs along the entrance of the forest reading “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult the police before you decide to die!” and “Think carefully about your children, your family” on trees throughout the pathways”. (Puchko). Also, many police and volunteers patrol the area of the forest everyday, and on top of that the government has been putting up many surveillance cameras along the perimeter of the forest. Many volunteers even risk their lives by going inside the forest to search for bodies and lost belongings. By putting up a barrier around the Golden Gate Bridge, it would prove to the people of San Francisco that the government truly cares about it’s citizens.
Lastly, a suicide barrier would greatly benefit the Golden Gate Bridge not only to decrease the suicide rates, but it would greatly push the attraction of tourists to visit the bridge. After the making of the net, the Golden Gate Bridge would definitely create a ton more of business and there would be hundreds maybe even thousands of more tourists everyday that would to come and visit the bridge in it’s new and improved state. Making the safety net would easily be one of the biggest publicity events in a long while. When buildings and stores get renovated, especially ones that are very important to a lot of people, everyone goes to see it, even people who say that haven’t visited the place in years. “Today, nearly 112,000 cars cross it every day. That equals almost 41 million cars a year” (Loeffler). Citizens believe the bridge would create an even bigger amount of traffic and would bring it a lot more tourists a day if the bridge had been renovated in such a huge way. Statistics say that revenue from the bridge would skyrocket after the net had been completed.
There are also many cons to building a safety barrier around the bridge, such as cost, time consumption and the biggest concern between the government and the citizens of San Francisco is how different the bridge could possibly look. Many people believe the net would make the bridge look ugly and it could possibly lessen the appeal tourists get to come and visit the bridge. Despite how “horrible” people believe the bridge would look with a net around it, a lot of people actually don’t know that for the past 25 years, three hundred and fifty feet of the southern end of the bridge have already been “ruined” with an eight-foot-tall fence, directly above the Fort Point National Park site on the shore of the Bay. This debris fence was erected to “keep tourists from dropping things—including, at one point, bowling balls—onto other tourists below”. “It’s a public-safety issue,” the bridge’s former chief engineer, Mervin Giacomini says (O’connor 1). Little do people know that the net design that was suggested to the board members was 90% transparent and would pretty much be invisible unless you were actually standing on the bridge. Also, apparently the bridge’s former chief engineer believed that a debris fence is more of a “public-safety issue” than a suicide net is.
To conclude, I wholeheartedly support the construction of a safety barrier around the Golden Gate Bridge. I believe that it will not only bring peace to previous victim’s family’s, but it will also show people who believe suicide is the fast way of death that someone truly cares about them enough.We can’t just keep letting the suicide rate climb and climb like it is right now. We need to show people that we really care about them. We as a country need to stand together and show the people of California and the people of the world that we care about suicide prevention and that we do care enough to bridge awareness to the topic of suicide. Suicide is not a joke and it needs to be taken seriously by everyone, by the people of our country and especially by the government.
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