New signs offer messages of hope and info for people considering jumping off Narrows bridge

Suicide-prevention signs have been erected on the eastbound span of the Tacoma Narrows bridge.
Suicide-prevention signs have been erected on the eastbound span of the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Peninsula Gateway file photo

After a year of work, the Gig Harbor Suicide Coalition finally got 20 suicide-prevention signs onto the eastbound Narrows bridge.

These signs include the messages “Life is worth living. There is help” and “You are not alone. Make the call.” They each also provide the suicide-prevention number for anyone to call at any time.

“We hope that the signs help people pause and follow up and call the number on the sign if they are distressed,” Suicide Coalition member Bob Anderson said. “That pause we know from national and international statistics can make the difference between life and death.”

The project began when the coalition received a $30,000 grant from Pierce County. The grant was used to help bring suicide survivor Kevin Hines to speak in Gig Harbor as well as pay for the signs on the bridge.

The coalition initially hoped the signs would be up by Nov. 5, but they learned the county did not initially have the equipment to create the signs and had to purchase it.

Anderson, whose son killed himself at the age of 20, said the coalition’s year of hard work means a great deal to him.

“It’s a great feeling of success,” Anderson said. “It’s something our coalition and Rotary North have worked on for a year, so we are feeling great about it. It would not have been possible without the support of Pierce County Council.”

The coalition is now pushing for the governor and the state Department of Transportation to include money for netting and barriers for the bridge.

“Signs are a help and warning and hopefully will slow people down who may be considering suicide,” Anderson said. “If anyone decides to jump off the bridge though, they’ll jump off. The signs can’t prevent them from jumping. It’s the same with the Golden Gate Bridge. The netting has significantly reduced suicides there.”

Nine people have died by jumping off the Narrows Bridge in the past five years.

The coalition had around 30 signs created, and Anderson said it is attempting to find places to erect the extras.

“We want to make sure the public is more aware of the signs and more aware of the deaths that have been on the bridge,” Anderson said. “We also will be looking for public places in parks and other places to place more of these signs. We had 30 made and the idea is to place them on the bridge and other prominent locations.”

The Suicide Prevention coalition will be meeting at 9 a.m. on March 14 at the Boys and Girls Club to decide how to publicize these signs, and what next steps the coalition will take.

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