John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The number of suicidal youth coming to the bridge has increased five-fold in recent years.
More than 1,700 people have committed suicide from the Golden Gate Bridge since it opened in the 1930s. While the grim tide hasn’t much changed, the demographics have, with more and more young folks arriving to snuff their lives.
“Since 2000, the number of troubled young people under 25 years old showing up at the Bridge considering suicide has increased more than five-fold,” says Bridge District spokeswoman Priya Clemens in an emailed press release. So authorities are trying a new way to reach distressed youths: texting.
The bridge is partnering with the national nonprofit Crisis Text Line, a free, 24-hour service that connects suicidal individuals with counselors. The hope is young people will be more inclined to reach out for help if it’s through a technology they trust and use frequently.
Already signs have gone up on the span urging people to “text GGB to 741741,” the service’s hotline. The need is obviously there: Even before this partnership, Crisis Text Line had nearly 100 interactions with suicidal people who mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge, reports the Burlingame Patch.
The plan is to post the number people can text if they are here and thinking about jumping. A crisis counselor will text them, give them hope and a reason not to jump.
They are focusing on teens because they are coming to this bridge more than ever before.
The captain for security at the Golden Gate Bridge said just [last] week, a 19-year-old jumped and they pulled a 16-year-old who was about to jump to safety….
The line is available for all age groups but it seems to be the preferred way for teens to communicate. [Eighty] percent of the texts that come in to that text line are under the age of 25.