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In our lead editorial on Sunday, we report the findings of our latest Press Democrat reader poll. This one shows North Bay residents are emphatically against suicide barriers on the Golden Gate Bridge. We were somewhat surprised at how strongly locals feel about it – particularly given the momentum that has been building to have something installed.

This week, bridge officials unveiled the various options for a barrier, each costing an estimated $40 million to $50 million. But the poll shows seven out of 10 readers believe the installation of suicide barriers would “dramatically alter the look and feel of the bridge and should not be installed.” Of the options being discussed, more than half of the 241 people who responded said they favored “doing nothing.”

About 20 percent said they favored the net alternative. None of the other options before the board was supported by more than 8 percent of the respondents.

When asked how suicide barriers should be funded if they are installed, 30 percent said through “private donations” while 24 percent said through a combination of donations and federal grants. Only 3 percent said that it should be paid for through an increase in tolls.

Here are a sampling of other comments we did not have room to include in Sunday’s editorial:

“Why should we pay to put up barriers like this? If someone wants to kill themselves, they will find a way,” wrote one of the 125 respondents to leave written comments after taking the survey. “The bridge does not MAKE them do it.”

“Adding a net below the bridge to save people, will only encourage ‘thrill seekers’ to start jumping off the bridge . . . ” noted another respondent who chose not to leave a name. “Putting up bars will completely take away from the beauty and wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge, so I feel nothing should be done.”

Tedd Peterson of Cloverdale: “The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized (and revered) man-made structures in the world. To deface it in any way would be comparable to outlining the Statue of Liberty with neon lighting. Individuals who are intent on committing suicide would just look elsewhere to complete the act should barriers be placed on the bridge.”

Ray Waldbaum of Santa Rosa: “It is not the public’s responsibility to make sure that people can’t make bad choices. Furthermore, there are plenty of publicly funded resources oriented toward suicide prevention.”

Noted David R. Ford of Sonoma, one of the few who wrote in support of a barrier, “It’s past time for such a structure. So what if the view is slightly limited. Let’s save lives, not just views!”

If you would like to be included in future polls, send me a note at paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com, and I will add you to our list. But please be patient. It takes time to update our list.
– Paul Gullixson