I want to thank you for your op/ed on the proposed suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a very contentious issue and it is important that we talk about the issues surrounding suicide publicly.
After graduating from Santa Cruz I had the opportunity to study civil engineering at Berkeley where I studied options for the suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge as part of my senior design project. In our study of the nature of suicide, we learned that suicide is a temporary state. While people may be depressed or suicidal for a long time, the window of time within which a person will actually carry out a suicidal act is extremely small and a barrier can serve long enough for someone to reconsider. In an important study by Richard Seiden, he found that of 500 people who unsuccessfully attempted suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge, 96 percent were still alive 25 years later. This shows that most people, when deterred from their chosen method of suicide, will not seek suicide elsewhere. Per Linqvist did a case study on 50 people who committed suicide by jumping from a bridge and found that limiting the availability of one means of suicide will reduce the overall suicide rate. Many studies show that people who want to commit suicide will not try another method if they are unsuccessful with their chosen method.
Another reason for construction of a barrier is that it shows that as a community we care enough about the people who might commit suicide to do something. Not constructing a barrier is synonymous with leaving a loaded gun in the home of someone you know is suicidal.
Thank you,<br/>*Danielle Hutchings, Engineering Project Management*