Golden Gates: A Resolution for Psychological and Physical Suicide Safety Nets


Here's something we can do physically to prevent suicide.

golden gate

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Years ago, I had a colleague and his wife whose son—their only child—died by suicide, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then, the parents joined many others in advocating for some sort of safety barrier to prevent jumping into the water to die or be severely injured. One of the major obstacles was apparently not to block the beautiful sight of the bridge as it was, even though about 2000 individuals had died by jumping since 1937.

Finally, after 2 decades, nets were installed last Wednesday on both sides of the bridge. The barriers are already working.

When we see suicidal patients, we must help install psychological barriers. Usually, we are successful.

Physical and psychological barriers can supplant each other. Most survivors of such bridge jumping attempts will not try again because stopping easy access to lethal means is crucial for prevention.

That brings us to gun safety, where deaths by suicide are so much more common. Since the National Rifle Association leader has resigned with a pending corruption trial, perhaps now is the opportune time for a psychiatric resolution in 2024 to push even harder for gun barriers.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.

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