Beautiful things don’t ask for attention, says author James Thurber, but sometimes, it must be asked for.
It’s hard to miss the beauty of the Coronado Bridge.
However, the Coronado Bridge is the second most frequently used bridge for suicides after the Golden Gate Bridge, according to the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS).
That agency in late January announced $14 million had been allocated to design a long-awaited suicide prevention system for the bridge.
About 400 deaths
Since the Coronado Bridge’s inception in 1969, there have been approximately 400 deaths by suicide.
There were 18 deaths in 2017, 17 in 2018, and 15 in 2019.
Three months into 2023, there have been two deaths – the most recent incident being last week of a 39-year-old woman, according to California Highway Patrol’s Public Information Officer Jesse Matias.
For comparison, the Golden Gate Bridge has had over 1,700 confirmed deaths due to jumpers since its opening in 1937.
From the road down to the water, the Northern Californian bridge is 20 feet higher than the Coronado Bridge, at a clearance of about 220 feet.
The most recent fatality has raised questions among some community members as to why it has taken so long for the Coronado Bridge to have measures in place to prevent suicides despite the Coronado City Council supporting CALTRANS in its proposal for a barrier.
The Coronado Bridge, however, does have a couple deterrents in preventing jumpers.
One being four-inch spikes that were installed on the perimeters of the bridge in early 2019, as an interim measure – although that hasn’t stopped people from committing suicide.
The second is a “natural” or built-in deterrent, as the bridge does not have any pavements for pedestrians. The only way to get onto it is to drive.
Because the Coronado Bridge currently does not have a permanent suicide prevention system, there are frequent bridge closures when people leave their cars parked on the highway.
Bridge closures require a 23-mile detour, around 30-60 minutes, of extra travel time.
While the bridge remains infamous for its jumpers, “fatalities caused by suicide do not qualify under the current Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) criteria; therefore, suicide deterrent projects are not eligible for HSIP funding,” according to CALTRANS.
Yet, there is a project in the works.
In February 2022, a public meeting was held to discuss a project that would include a vertical 8 to 10-foot-tall stainless-steel net on the perimeter of both sides of the bridge.
As of January 2023, this project was added to the Office of State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOPP) portfolio of programs and construction is set to begin September 2026.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, or are concerned that someone you know may be, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.