US & Canada

Golden Gate Bridge board approves anti-suicide net

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Media captionMore than 1,400 people have committed suicide by leaping off the famous landmark

San Francisco bridge officials have approved the construction of suicide-prevention nets alongside the Golden Gate Bridge.

The bridge's board voted unanimously on a $76m (£45m) funding package.

Since the bridge opened in 1937, more than 1,400 people have killed themselves by jumping off the bridge, including a record 46 suicides in 2013.

The vote marks a last step in what has been a decades-long campaign by families of suicide victims.

"For survivors, seeing more people added to our group while waiting for a funding package has been excruciating," said John Brooks, whose daughter died after jumping off the bridge in 2008.

The stainless steel net was first approved by the board in 2008 over other suicide-prevention options, including raising the bridge's railings.

But funding for the project was a major obstacle.

One of the more significant hurdles in funding the nets was overcome when the US president signed a law making safety barriers and nets eligible for federal funds. Federal funding will make up $49m of the project.

The net will stretch 20ft (6m) wide on each side of the span, officials say.

During a news conference on Thursday ahead of the vote, one of the few people who had survived a suicide attempt off the bridge rejected the argument those who were suicidal would find another way if the nets were installed.

Kevin Hines, 32, said he felt "instant regret" when he jumped.

"Not one more soul, not one more soul will be lost to that bridge," he said.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2018, Denis Mulligan, the bridge's general manager, told the Associated Press news agency.

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