California Highway Patrol officers talked two would-be jumpers off the eastern ledge of the Golden Gate Bridge on two consecutive days this week.
The bike patrol officers stopped a 29-year-old man Wednesday and a 49-year-old man Thursday from jumping, the agency said. A KRON4 news reporter captured the second encounter on film during a media ride-along, according to the CHP.
CHP Sgt. Gilbert Osuna said the bicycle patrol unit members take four-day critical-incident training classes to prepare them to identify and interact with people suffering from depression or mental health issues.
The bike patrols were implemented in 2001, Osuna said, and have made it much easier for officers to see and contact people trying to commit suicide on the bridge.
“The Golden Gate Bridge gets millions of people a year,” he said.
“We have lots of people to look at.”
The number of suicide threats varies, Osuna said. Some days officers won’t encounter any, and other days multiple contacts are made.
On Wednesday, a CHP bike patrol officer received a call at about 2:40 p.m. about a man over the railing on the east walkway of the bridge.
The officer talked to the man for about 10 minutes and was able to convince him to come back onto the sidewalk, the CHP said. He was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.
The next day, a CHP bike patrol officer who had just transitioned to a patrol car for the KRON4 ride-along received a call at about 11:30 a.m. about a possibly suicidal person sitting on the east walkway railing.
The officer found the man over the railing near the south tower, and after about 40 minutes the man agreed to come back to the sidewalk, the CHP said.
He was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
The officers’ critical-incident training includes overviews of schizophrenia, mood disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, cognitive disorders such as dementia and delirium, suicide by cop, and intervention strategies, Osuna said.
Members of all 13 law enforcement agencies in Marin County undergo the training, he said.
Anyone who is feeling suicidal is encouraged call the national, 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to the closest crisis line.
Crisis counselors from the nonprofit San Francisco Suicide Prevention are also available to participate in online chats at www.sfsuicide.org.
Janna Brancolini, Bay City News