Why build a suicide barrier -- won't they just go somewhere else?
No. This is a common misconception:
Two suicide bridges in Washington D.C., the Taft and the Duke Ellington, are located a block away from each other. When officials erected a barrier on one bridge, suicides on the other bridge did not increase.
Dr. Richard Seiden, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, studied 515 individuals who were prevented from jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Ninety four percent of them went on to live normal and productive lives -- a mere six percent attempted suicide again.
The Memorial Bridge in Augusta, Maine was the sight of 14 suicides before officials erected a safety fence there. After installing the fence, suicides at the bridge fell to zero -- and the suicide rate in the entire state did not increase.
Why build a suicide barrier -- cut pedestrian access instead?
Originally the Seattle FRIENDS organization, along with support from a few surrounding neighbors and businesses, tried to lobby officials to cut pedestrian access to the bridge. After all, a detour exists through the nearby Fremont Bridge and research has shown restricting means dramatically reduces suicides. However, the City of Seattle and pedestrian/bicycle advocacy groups opposed the idea. Therefore, we decided to make a strategic decision to join forces and lobby for a barrier instead.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, the agency which owns the bridge, outlines the barrier challenges on their website. The City of Seattle, who operates the bridge, installed 6 call boxes in November of 2006 and, at the advice of Seattle FRIENDS, recently funded abarrier design workshop where members of the public solicited their ideas for a suicide barrier on the bridge.
Politicians listen to people. If a group of people can collectively raise money toward the issue, it will make it much easier for policy makers in Olympia to make the case to divert funds toward a suicide barrier. Also, your donation is tax exempt. Check with your employer to see if donor-matching programs exist.