The well-known “Suicide Bridge” in Portland, Ore., might have barriers put up to prevent people from jumping off.
The Vista Bridge — known as the Suicide Bridge — is the site of at least a few deaths per year and at least three this year alone. For that reason, a group led by a local Portland couple is advocating for a larger barrier to be constructed.
Kenneth and Bonnie Kahn lead the Friends of Vista Bridge group and have an office almost right underneath the bridge. Over the years, Kenneth said he has heard the crunch of eight bodies landing on the pavement and now wants to work to save lives.
“Just imagine a human being detonating,” Kahn said.
Though Friends of Vista Bridge understands that a barrier will not necessarily prevent suicides, it will force people to think twice before jumping.
City leaders are in favor of the project but are wary of the cost which is estimated to be about $2.5 million.
“We certainly think of it as a high priority,” said City Commissioner Steve Novick. “But there’s a whole mess of competing priorities and not much money.”
Studies show barriers do help lower suicide rates. In Washington, D.C., a fence was installed at the Duke Ellington Bridge that lowered the suicide rate from four every year to only one in the following five years. In addition, Toronto’s Bloor Street Viaduct had a $5.5 million barrier installed that has prevented suicides completely since its construction.