Erasing the stigma: Suicide hotline signs coming to Tacoma Narrows Bridge

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TACOMA, Wash. – If you’re planning on driving across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, you might notice new signs along the rails.  A group of people in Gig Harbor want to get the word out about suicide prevention.

Soon you’ll see signs giving people a better option instead of jumping from 510 feet.  Just last week, someone committed suicide off the bridge.  The Gig Harbor Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition says they’re fighting back against the stigma and bringing awareness.

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Cars race across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on a rainy Friday night near where someone once stood on the edge of their existence fighting inner demons until ultimately falling to their demise by jumping off the side and into the icy, unforgiving waters below.

“There’s been a significant number of suicides by jumping off the bridge over the past few years including one just last week,” said Gig Harbor Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition Facilitator Bob Anderson.

It’s why Bob Anderson says there’s no time to waste to get suicide prevention signs up along the bridge in a last-ditch effort to make a big impact.

“There are people who care about you who want to know ways in which we can help you deal with your frustrations right now and here are numbers to call,” said Anderson.

It’s exactly what Bob wishes he could’ve told his 20-year-old son Rob.

“There were no signs of potential suicide at all. It happened very suddenly and very much by surprise to me and his mother and all of his friends,” said Anderson.

A wound opened again when WSU Quarterback Tyler Hilinski committed suicide earlier this month at the same age as Anderson’s son.

“When we see somebody who’s thinking about to committing suicide, if we take the time to care about them and to share their concerns about living that’s one of the things that is the biggest deterrent,” said Anderson.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge has long since been a place for those taking their own life. It happens here at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  That’s why city officials are finally putting up a net to curb the deaths there. Regardless of the manner of suicide, Anderson knows we must keep trying to save people.

“We know there isn’t one remedy that can solve problems,” said Anderson.

The coalition plans to put up the suicide prevention signs on the bridge as soon as it gets approval from the Washington Department of Transportation.  The next step is to put up those signs in green spaces and public places to spread the word.

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