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Marin County (CA) pushes to prevent suicide deaths.

Posted Oct 23 2008 1:35pm
You know about an object that has contributed to over 1300 deaths during the past 70 years and have had a number of folks say that it is “fixable” so that most of those deaths will not occur there in the future. What do you do? Obfuscate and don’t talk about it, because it would involve saying a taboo word. Don’t talk about it because it would involve talking about suicide. It would involve admitting that death by suicide occurs there and we all know that the “law of contagion” would lead to increased numbers of deaths by suicide there.

Finally, the Medical Examiner of Marin County is pushing for something to be done:
"I'm tired of the carnage," he said. "The public needs to know these needless deaths continue at an alarming rate."
He also wants officials to erect a suicide barrier to prevent future deaths (on the Golden Gate Bridge).
"I believe a higher railing would stop a lot of the suicide attempts," Holmes said. "A lot of people go to the bridge really in the moment, rather than carrying through any well-thought-out effort to end their lives. Of course, you're not going to stop all of them. I'm not that idealistic."
Along the pedestrian walkway visited by millions of tourists each year, only a 4-foot-high railing separates visitors from the turbulent bay waters below.
"If that rail was just 6 foot tall, it would delete 75% of the suicides," he said. "Because now it is just too easy to kill yourself there. You don't even have to climb. You can just lean over the rail and go."

In office for “decades”, he has now taken a stand. He released data on the suicide deaths that have occurred off of the bridge during the last 10 years and is taking a leadership role in preventing them in the future. I applaud his speaking out about suicide and his efforts to prevent them.

Suicide should not be cloaked in taboo and stigma. Suicide happens more than most folks realize (57 deaths by suicide in our county last year). Certainly not all suicides are preventable, but we owe it to folks to try to prevent as many as we can. It is not an easy road to prevention, but we most definitely should go after those things that present an “easier” remedy and remediate them. Our Suicide Prevention Task Force keeps looking for those sorts of issues locally, as well as the tougher targets and solutions. Step one is getting folks more comfortable with talking about suicide, lessening the taboo and stigma.
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