Thirty-three people jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge last year, according to figures issued Thursday by the Bridge Rail Foundation.

The Sausalito-based foundation, which advocates for a suicide barrier on the span, has released the figure in recent years to support its goal.

The 2012 death toll is similar to totals reported in recent years. There were 37 suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2011, 32 in 2010, 31 in 2009 and 34 in 2008, according to the group.

"It's amazing the number has been so consistent," said Ken Holmes of Novato, former Marin County coroner and a member of the foundation's board, who has pushed for a barrier for years. "We are cautiously optimistic something will happen with the barrier and in the past we haven't always had that feeling."

The optimism stems from a federal transportation bill signed last July by President Barack Obama that includes language allowing federal funds to flow to the project. Though it doesn't provide any of the $50 million needed to build the planned net barrier, it makes it eligible for federal cash, which was not the case previously.

Sen. Barbara Boxer agreed to carry the language in the bill, and new Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, has voiced support for the barrier. Bridge board policy states that district toll dollars won't be used for construction of the barrier, but the district has worked to do preliminary work.

"Final design for the barrier will be done by the end of the year," said Mary Currie, bridge district spokeswoman. "At that point it is ready to build."

In February 2010, Golden Gate Bridge directors gave landmark approval to a suicide barrier, setting the stage for construction if money can be found.

The foundation, which calculated its suicide total working with the Marin County coroner's office and the bridge district, also reported that last year 86 people were removed from the bridge because they presented an immediate risk of suicide. That figure includes individuals talked off the bridge ledge, others intercepted by staff or pedestrians on the walkway and others stopped in the parking lot when officials were warned of an impending suicide by family or friends.

"We have people on the bridge looking to stop people who have the intent of harming themselves," Currie said. "We continue to have eyes and ears here at the bridge."

The bridge district's suicide barrier plan calls for a net extending 20 feet below and 20 feet from the side of the span. The net would be made from stainless steel cable and would collapse slightly if someone jumped in, making it difficult to get out, bridge officials said.

The district would have a "snooper" truck with an elongated arm to get people out, although such rescues might be rare because the net would act as a deterrent. A similar net was placed 11 years ago on the Munster Terrace cathedral in Bern, Switzerland, and since then no suicide attempts have been reported.

About 1,600 people have jumped from the span since it opened in 1937. Another 80 or so people who are contemplating suicide are pulled off the bridge every year. The bridge has the most suicides of any site in the world.

Contact Mark Prado via email at mprado@marinij.com