As Barrier Talks Begin, Coronado Bridge’s Suicide Toll Is Skyrocketing

San Diego, CA (VOSD) – The average annual number of suicides has more than doubled, and 2012’s death toll of 19 lives was the highest in the bridge’s nearly 50-year history. This year is on pace to reach or pass that number. Coronado’s mayor is pushing for a barrier.

This week’s community meetings about a barrier to prevent suicides at the Coronado-San Diego Bay Bridge couldn’t be more timely: The last six years have seen an extraordinary and unexplained increase in jumps from the bridge.

The average annual number of suicides has more than doubled, and 2012’s death toll of 19 lives was the highest in the bridge’s nearly 50-year history. This year is on pace to reach or pass that number.

The bridge – with a death toll nearing 400 since 1969 – is poised to reach a morbid milestone. “If nothing is done soon,” Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey recently wrote, “the Coronado Bridge will experience more suicides and more closures from attempted suicides than any other bridge in our nation.”

He’s right. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, now the deadliest bridge in the United States, is installing steel nets designed to prevent suicides there. Many other bridges worldwide with major suicide problems have installed barriers to prevent deaths, and research suggests they work. But until now, local and state officials have barely discussed the idea of a Coronado Bridge barrier.

Picture-Perfect Bridge Soon Drew the Hopeless

The $50 million Coronado Bridge opened in 1969 and quickly became a postcard-perfect icon of sun and sea in San Diego. “The “span of blue steel … arches across the bay and clasps Coronado in the grip of modernity,” raved The New York Times.

It took just three years before someone toppled over the bridge’s 34-inch railing to her death. The victim didn’t want to kill herself, however. Her husband forced her over the edge and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Coronado Bridge in San Diego, CA. Image source; Wikimedia
This article was prepared by Randy Dotinga for Voice of San Diego.