State Rep pushes for bridge suicide barrier

8:22 PM, Feb 27, 2014   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- State Representative Joe Brooks' proposal to help prevent suicides off the Penobscot Narows Bridge became a bill Thursday. This comes after a former school teacher from Bucksport died Sunday evening after jumping off the bridge. She was the sixth person to do so since it opened in 2006.

"I think it's time that we put up a fence, a safety net, that would prevent these things from happening, or at least discourage them," said District 42 Representative Brooks.

Brooks hopes this new fence will make people think before they jump. According to Jenna Mehnert of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine division, it's a good plan.

"Folks who are in that kind of crisis mind set are fixated on one means. They don't have a variety of options...and when you remove that one option they sort of have to stop and regroup," says Mehnert.

Many famous bridges around the nation have similar fences in place.

"The Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, they have both barriers and signs that say the crisis number, people want to help you," Mehnert said.

She said the fence won't just help prevent bridge suicides, but keep people in the area from taking their own lives at all. She said research shows bridge barriers reduce suicide for the entire region.

Some have said that suicidal people will just find another location. Brooks recognized their points, but said the point is to make people pause.

"I'm sorry we can't cover all the bases, but at least this gives us an opportunity to say to those folks who are in deep depression, or manic, or where ever they are, think for a minute before you jump. We want you alive and we want to help you," said Brooks.

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