Golden Gate Barrier Debate Highlights Misconceptions about Depression

2014-03-30_17-40-13Several of the readers of this blog sent me a link to an article that appeared in The New York Times this past week that indicated that it was possible or even likely that at the end of May the Golden Gate Bridge district would approve installing a barrier to prevent suicides.

In case you don’t live near here, the Golden Gate Bridge is the number one site in the country for suicide, and anyone who has worked with people with depression can tell you how many people think about jumping from the bridge, at one point or another in their recovery from depression.

The evidence that this would event needless tragedies and suffering is overwhelming and the proposed barrier which would have a minimal effect on the aesthetics of the bridge would cost about 20 million dollars. Which, if you consider that almost 50 people a year die from jumping off the bridge represents about $50,000 per preventable death.

Among the comments in response to the article, several indicated how far we still have to go in addressing stigma against those who suffer from depression.

For example, no amount of science appears to be enough to stop people from saying that there’s no point in building a barrier because people will just use other means.

Studies have shown that if you compare a city like San Francisco that has a high visibility site with a comparable city without such a site that the suicide rate will be higher in the city that has the high visibility site and that the difference will be explained entirely by the additional suicides from the site.

A large study of those extremely rare people who survived has shown that almost none of them make future suicide attempts.

Whereas many people have thought about suicide for a long period of time. The act itself is impulsively made and almost immediately regretted, in almost all cases.

So, congratulations, better late than never. And a special word of appreciation for Dr. Mel Blaustein who has devoted thousands of hours tirelessly lobbying and cajoling the board to make this happen.

For more on this you can follow the link below.