LETTER: Experience shows barriers prevent bridge jumps

I’m no expert on suicide, or bridges, but I’ve learned some things since my wife, Nancy, jumped from the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, August 2002.

Bridges are dangerous.

In 1998 a madman shot and killed a bus driver, grabbed the wheel and plunged the coach over the Aurora Bridge rail.

It was a miracle only three people died.

Immediately the bridge curb was raised seventeen inches to protect any more innocent drivers and passengers from careening over the edge.

In 2011, after eighty years and 230 deaths, a fence was erected after calls from citizens for bridge safety were finally heard.

Port Angeles residents, stop stigmatizing mental illness.

Do you blame someone when they contract a brain tumor?

Mental illness is poorly understood by experts and hard to fathom by the rest of us.

Suicide has been called a “desperate attempt to end unendurable pain, akin to throwing oneself through a window because one’s clothing is on fire” (Father Ron Rolheiser).

Today, when I’m confused about mental illness, my fallback is to think on Nancy’s caring approach to others she found in distress — before she became ill.

She dispensed love and kindness.

The King County Medical Examiner studied Seattle suicides closely after the installation of the Aurora Bridge fence.

They found —

• Sick people in despair on a bridge, if kept from jumping — do not go and find another bridge.

• If a magnet suicide structure is made safer, it will lead to fewer suicides overall in a community.

Port Angeles, please don’t delay.

Stephen Workman,

Port Angeles

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