Anti-suicide patrol at Golden Gate span Bridge employees being trained to stop jumpers

February 25, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

SAN FRANCISCO -- In their perennial struggle to deter would-be jumpers, Golden Gate Bridge officials have decided to rely on the human touch rather than build new physical barriers.

The bridge's Board of Directors voted Friday to institute an anti-suicide patrol so that the 1.6-mile span could be kept under surveillance throughout the daylight hours, when people usually leap.

Toll collectors and maintenance and security personnel already stop about 75 percent of would-be jumpers, said Robert A. Warren, the bridge's manager, but there have been no designated suicide-preventers.

"They'll just be looking for anybody who looks like they're acting unusual or having a problem or physically doing anything like climbing over the railing," Mr. Warren said.

"Or they'll just be available if someone wants to come up and talk to them."

Since it was completed in 1937, the structure about 250 feet above the San Francisco Bay has been a magnet for the despondent.

Although bridge officials refuse to say how many people have jumped since then, it appears to be well over 1,000. Their numbers have included the founder of the lingerie chain Victoria's Secret, a Hollywood stuntman who had hoped to survive, an 87-year-old and a 5-year-old.

The anti-suicide patrols, which officials say could begin in April, will be trained by the San Francisco Suicide Prevention agency.

The patrols will operate at least eight hours every day.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.