No. 3 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
No. 3 Golden Gate Bridge, San Franciscoemrecan

Golden Gate Bridge officials have unanimously backed a plan to build a suicide-prevention net at the San Francisco Bay span.

Two people jump to their deaths each month at the world famous landmark, while scores of others contemplating suicide, are coaxed not to jump from the span.

The Bridge Rail Foundation, which tracks fatalities at the location, said 46 people committed suicide there last year.

More than 1,400 people have leapt to their deaths from the 4,200-ft suspension bridge since it opened in 1937.

The bridge district's plan calls for a net made of stainless steel cable extending 20ft below and 20ft from the side of the span at a cost of $76m (£45m).

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

Dennis Mulligan, the bridge district's general manager, told KTVU-TV the nets would prevent further fatalities.

"For whatever reason, suicidal people don't want to hurt themselves. At other locations where nets have been erected, no individual has jumped into the net."

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 that those who were suicidal would find another way of taking their lives 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.

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

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

The plans, which have been debated since the 1950s, overcame a significant hurdle when the US president Barack Obama, signed a law making safety barriers and nets eligible for federal funds.

Construction of the nets is expected to be completed by 2018.