The problem of people trying to and in some cases succeeding in committing suicide by jumping off the Coronado Bay Bridge has risen to the level of a public health problem. That’s according to a group that wants to try a new approach to preventing people from jumping off the bridge.
You don’t have to go too far back in time to find when someone last contemplated jumping off the bridge. It was this past Wednesday. The bridge was closed for more than four hours. Fortunately, police were able to dissuade that person from jumping.
“Ultimately, it would be our dream to prevent suicides off the Coronado Bridge,” said Jennifer Lewis with the Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention Collaborative. Just this past Tuesday, the group got the support of the Coronado City Council to ask CalTrans to do a feasibility study, a way to determine what more might be done, because the signs along the bridge giving suicide prevention counseling information aren’t working.
“According to the Coronado Police Department, since January 2015, they have responded to 41 attempts,” Lewis said. The numbers for completed suicides are equally shocking. Drawing on information from Coronado P.D., the CHP, the Medical Examiner and others, Lewis said from 2000 to today, more than 150-people have jumped off the bridge to their deaths.
That’s why Lewis and her group want to see something done, a barrier rail, nets... something. The Collaborative wants CalTrans to conduct a feasibility study to see what might work.
“We’ve reached out to the City of Coronado to find out what the specifics are,” said Edward Cartagena, public information officer for CalTrans. Nets are being installed on the Golden Gate Bridge and Lewis said in other places where they’ve gone in, they’ve been 100 percent effective. Whether they would work here needs to be studied. “The weight of those structures, the wind currents... our structure was completed in 1969. You know it’s been upgraded and retrofitted for seismic, but now you’re gonna add on additional weight,” Cartagena said.
Cartagena went on to say that CalTrans is now waiting for an official request from the City of Coronado. Jennifer Lewis said she understands the matter has to be studied, but she wants a sense of urgency behind the effort. The lives of all who’ve jumped or thought about it in the past would seem to demand nothing less. Cartagena said if a feasibility study is undertaken, it could take anywhere from six months to two years.
If you or someone you know needs some help, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 888-724-7240. The line is staffed by trained professionals 24/7.