This post covers a tragic and very sad event that took place on the Golden Gate Bridge which some readers may find distressing.
There are uplifting reasons to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. To marvel close up at the engineering. To gaze across at the San Francisco skyline. To take that widely-shared selfie.
Another reason is to take your own life.
At regular intervals there are notices encouraging potential jumpers to press a button and talk to a counsellor. Yet, despite campaigns going back decades, there is still no protective fence preventing anyone pulling themselves up over the four-foot high barrier.
At the mid-point, Hilary marches on ahead whilst Roger and Stephanie (Hilary’s sister who has flown out to join us) turn back. Passing her, Roger notices the lone young woman standing by the barrier looking out into the distance, but there is nothing to directly suggest what will happen seconds later.
Her body is directly below us floating away into the bay. Only an English couple on bikes and a young girl from the Philippines had actually seen her go over. It has all happened so quickly. All of us shaken, waving hopelessly to a tourist boat some way off.
Bridge Protection Officers on the scene in minutes say it happens “Too often”. A flare is launched to track the current.
Roger picks up the woman’s black backpack left on the walkway; it’s completely empty except for some face cream. An Officer implies she wore it to blend in, “They often make many visits to work out how to avoid detection”.
Asked by Roger and Stephanie why there was no protection fence, the Officer says matter of factly “There are agreed plans to put a steel netting out on either side, but the money is still not fully available yet. It will cost millions.”
On Wikipedia a graph indicates around 30-40 people jump from the bridge each year. Surviving is very, very rare.
As she floats away, we see no attempt to retrieve the young woman. The girl from the Philippines cries on Roger’s shoulder “I was the last person she looked at”.