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Analysis of the cost effectiveness of a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Atkins Whitmer D, Woods DL - Crisis (2013)

Bottom Line: Cost/benefit analyses utilized estimates of value of statistical life (VSL) used in highway projects.Jumping from other structures has an average lethality of 47%.Cost-benefit analysis suggests that a suicide barrier on the GGB would result in a highly cost-effective reduction in suicide mortality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Research Laboratory, VA Northern California Healthcare Outpatient Clinic, Martinez, CA 94553, USA. dayna.whitmer@va.gov

ABSTRACT

Background: The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) is a well-known "suicide magnet" and the site of approximately 30 suicides per year. Recently, a suicide barrier was approved to prevent further suicides.

Aims: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of the proposed suicide barrier, we compared the proposed costs of the barrier over a 20-year period ($51.6 million) to estimated reductions in mortality.

Method: We reviewed San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge suicides over a 70-year period (1936-2006). We assumed that all suicides prevented by the barrier would attempt suicide with alternative methods and estimated the mortality reduction based on the difference in lethality between GGB jumps and other suicide methods. Cost/benefit analyses utilized estimates of value of statistical life (VSL) used in highway projects.

Results: GGB suicides occur at a rate of approximately 30 per year, with a lethality of 98%. Jumping from other structures has an average lethality of 47%. Assuming that unsuccessful suicides eventually committed suicide at previously reported (12-13%) rates, approximately 286 lives would be saved over a 20-year period at an average cost/life of approximately $180,419 i.e., roughly 6% of US Department of Transportation minimal VSL estimate ($3.2 million).

Conclusions: Cost-benefit analysis suggests that a suicide barrier on the GGB would result in a highly cost-effective reduction in suicide mortality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Suicide deaths by jump site per decade in the San Francisco.
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fig3: Suicide deaths by jump site per decade in the San Francisco.

Mentions: Overall jumping deaths did not significantly change in the last decade reviewed,despite a significant decrease in jumping from all other structures than theGGB. Jumping from the GGB had averaged of 4–11 suicides per year over thefirst 3 decades, but climbed to 20 per year during the 1976–1986 periodand has continued to increase to over 30 per year in the last 5 years. As aresult, the majority of San Francisco suicides due to jumping from heights inthe final decade were from the GGB (59.4%), as shown in Figure 3. GGB suicides alone (244) surpassed totalsuicides by firearms (209) and approached the suicide total for self-poisoning(277). Indeed, during the most recent decade GGB suicides accounted for 20%of all suicides by jumping in California. From 2000 through 2009, there werealso 59 potential suicides (witnessed or suspected jumps without body recovery).These were not included in our analyses as full information was unavailable.


Analysis of the cost effectiveness of a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Atkins Whitmer D, Woods DL - Crisis (2013)

Suicide deaths by jump site per decade in the San Francisco.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3643780&req=5

fig3: Suicide deaths by jump site per decade in the San Francisco.
Mentions: Overall jumping deaths did not significantly change in the last decade reviewed,despite a significant decrease in jumping from all other structures than theGGB. Jumping from the GGB had averaged of 4–11 suicides per year over thefirst 3 decades, but climbed to 20 per year during the 1976–1986 periodand has continued to increase to over 30 per year in the last 5 years. As aresult, the majority of San Francisco suicides due to jumping from heights inthe final decade were from the GGB (59.4%), as shown in Figure 3. GGB suicides alone (244) surpassed totalsuicides by firearms (209) and approached the suicide total for self-poisoning(277). Indeed, during the most recent decade GGB suicides accounted for 20%of all suicides by jumping in California. From 2000 through 2009, there werealso 59 potential suicides (witnessed or suspected jumps without body recovery).These were not included in our analyses as full information was unavailable.

Bottom Line: Cost/benefit analyses utilized estimates of value of statistical life (VSL) used in highway projects.Jumping from other structures has an average lethality of 47%.Cost-benefit analysis suggests that a suicide barrier on the GGB would result in a highly cost-effective reduction in suicide mortality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Research Laboratory, VA Northern California Healthcare Outpatient Clinic, Martinez, CA 94553, USA. dayna.whitmer@va.gov

ABSTRACT

Background: The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) is a well-known "suicide magnet" and the site of approximately 30 suicides per year. Recently, a suicide barrier was approved to prevent further suicides.

Aims: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of the proposed suicide barrier, we compared the proposed costs of the barrier over a 20-year period ($51.6 million) to estimated reductions in mortality.

Method: We reviewed San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge suicides over a 70-year period (1936-2006). We assumed that all suicides prevented by the barrier would attempt suicide with alternative methods and estimated the mortality reduction based on the difference in lethality between GGB jumps and other suicide methods. Cost/benefit analyses utilized estimates of value of statistical life (VSL) used in highway projects.

Results: GGB suicides occur at a rate of approximately 30 per year, with a lethality of 98%. Jumping from other structures has an average lethality of 47%. Assuming that unsuccessful suicides eventually committed suicide at previously reported (12-13%) rates, approximately 286 lives would be saved over a 20-year period at an average cost/life of approximately $180,419 i.e., roughly 6% of US Department of Transportation minimal VSL estimate ($3.2 million).

Conclusions: Cost-benefit analysis suggests that a suicide barrier on the GGB would result in a highly cost-effective reduction in suicide mortality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus