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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 11, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Aurora Bridge

Costly fence takes dollars from real suicide prevention

The Seattle Times reports the city has approved spending $8 million on a suicide-prevention fence on the Aurora Bridge [“Fences at span to thwart suicides,” Around the Northwest, June 5]. But will a fence really do much to prevent suicides?

As a mother of a daughter with mental illness I know how difficult it is for depressed and mentally ill people to get help. After two recent visits to hospital emergency rooms and a call to a crisis hotline where the counselor informed me there was nothing that could be done since there was not an available psychiatric hospital bed in the city of Seattle or Bellevue, I was forced to take my psychotic and suicidal daughter home.

After three horrific weeks of watching my daughter suffer without any hope of getting the help she needed, she finally was admitted into the hospital. I can’t help but wonder what happens to the many others that desperately seek help and are sent away. How many of them go home to commit suicide?

A fence will prevent someone from jumping off a particular bridge, but what will stop them from finding another bridge or finding another way to commit suicide? Eight million dollars could do a world of good to help mental-health-care programs that are now underfunded and stretched to the limits of collapsing.

The fence is just putting a bandage on a gushing wound and shows what a lack of understanding many people and our government officials have on mental-health issues. The question is: Do we really want to do something about stopping suicide or is the city of Seattle more comfortable brushing the unpleasantness of suicide and mental illness from our sight?

— Nancy Cole, Seattle

Comments | More in Mental illness, Seattle

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