Golden Gate Bridge suicide nets delayed two years

Construction of a suicide prevention net at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is two years behind schedule because of problems with the lead contractor, officials said.

The suicide net is a coarse web of steel designed to catch and cradle people who jump and was set to be completed in 2021. It is now expected to be built by 2023, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.

Bridge officials cited problems with the lead contractor, Shimmick Construction Co., which was acquired by global engineering firm AECOM two years ago. The sale led to distraction and turnover, slowing many projects down, said bridge manager Denis Mulligan.

The company presented an optimistic timeline that didn’t pan out, underestimating the time needed to complete certain steps, Mulligan said.

Backers of the suicide barrier say a two-year delay equals 60 lives lost. At least 26 people died by plummeting from the bridge this year. Security patrols made 156 successful interventions.

“We’ve been averaging 30 deaths a year,” said Paul Muller, president of the nonprofit Bridge Rail Foundation, which formed to end suicides at the Golden Gate. Studies from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley suggest that a person who landed on the net is unlikely to jump again.

In a statement Wednesday, AECOM said its acquisition of Shimmick had not stymied the project.

The Golden Gate Bridge, with its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, has long been a destination for people seeking to end their lives. Since it opened in 1937, nearly 1,700 people have plunged to their deaths.

Most jumpers suffer a grisly death, with massive internal injuries, broken bones and skull fractures. Some die from internal bleeding. Others drown.

​​​​​​​National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -