Golden Gate Bridge suicide net construction begins

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It doesn't look like much, but it's expected to save hundreds of lives, people who might otherwise decide to take their lives by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

"The devastation is unimaginable," said Kimberleyrenee Gamboa, who lost 18-year-old Kyle to sucide in 2013. "After all these years, to see and touch a net, a net that will actually save lives on the Golden Gate Bridge is very emotional and surreal."

TAKE ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

The 300-foot sections are being fabricated at a plant in Richmond. Installation of the steel supports has already begun on the bridge.

"You're talking about 1.7 miles on both sides of the bridge," explained Dick Brosboll, Golden Gate Bridge District board member and chair of the distrit's Suicide Deterrent Advisory Committee. "You're talking about a net system that is 20 feet below."

"They will probably break a bone or two but they will live to see another day," said Denis Mulligan, GGBD General Manager. "Ninety percent of people who are unsuccessful in a suicide attempt never go on to try again."

The system is similar to others already installed on nearly dozen bridges around the world.

"The bridge opened in 1937 and within the first week, there was a suicide," said GGBD Board President Sabrina Hernandez.

More than 1,700 people have jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate since then.

TAKE ACTION: What to do if you suspect someone is suicidal

"For the hundreds of families who've lost loved ones to suicide, the relatively low tech structure is extremely important. It means others won't have to suffer, like they have."

"It's actually a pretty good day," said Dayna Whitmer.

The body of Whitmer's 20-year-old son Matthew was never found, but his car was, parked near the bridge in 2007.

"People say 'Oh, they'll just go somewhere else' and I hope they do because so many other methods are much less lethal and people can reflect on what they're doing, and call for help."
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