An event starting at the Aurora Bridge tomorrow is hoping to bring awareness to suicide prevention and to raise money for the Crisis Clinic of King County. Take Back The Bridge is a project started by Seattle Firefighter, and Vine Christian Ministries Pastor, Heath Rainwater after he responded to the bottom of the bridge for a suicide attempt last spring. Sadly, the result was tragic. ”As a firefighter, I’ve seen many, many, many suicides. What made this different is I saw this man fall in front of me.” Helpless to prevent that tragedy, he hopes Take Back The Bridge will inspire people to ”build a better sense of community and bring more personal involvement into people’s lives.”
The 2-day event follows reports of at least three jumping incidents within a single week recently. According to statistics from Seattle FRIENDS (FRemont Individuals & Employees Nonprofit to Decrease Suicides), a person attempts suicide from the Aurora Bridge an average of once every three months, and the bridge is the nation’s second deadliest bridge for suicides.
Starting in the next few weeks, preliminary construction will begin on a bridge barrier that will hopefully help deter people from jumping. However, actual installation of the fence likely won’t begin until next spring. In 2006, six emergency phone lines were installed along the bridge that enable people to call 9-1-1 or the Crisis Clinic’s 24-hour crisis line. In an article written by the Crisis Clinic regarding the phones and bridge, they note ”that effort has been insufficient in reducing the number of suicides.” They also add:
Suicide is a serious public health issue. In 2007, King County had 223 suicides; 11% of all deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The phones on the bridge are a lifeline for SOME, although the phones alone have not significantly changed the rates of suicide attempts from the bridge. And, while a physical barrier on the bridge may be effective, we also need to continue to invest in health care and mental health for everyone so that there are no barriers to getting help for anyone who needs it.
For anyone who wants to get help for themselves or someone they know, the number for the 24-hour crisis line is 206-461-3222 or 866-4CRISIS. You can also visit www.crisisclinic.org for more information.
This is the schedule for Take Back The Bridge:
- Friday, October 23: A 24-hour prayer vigil begins on the bridge at 5:00 p.m.
- Saturday, October 24: Pancake breakfast at Vine Christian Ministries (4000 Whitman Ave N) from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Give what you can. All proceeds will go to the Crisis Clinic.
- Saturday, October 24: Group walk over the Aurora Bridge at 10:30 a.m.
- Saturday, October 24: Neighborhood BBQ at Vine Christian Ministries at 3p.m. Give what you can. Proceeds benefit the Crisis Clinic.
If you want more information on any of the events, or to volunteer or donate money, visit Take Back The Bridge’s website.