April 20, 5:03 p.m. [Click on sketch to view larger]
Nearly 300 people have jumped from the Aurora Bridge since it opened in 1932. Thousands have been affected by the loss of life: family and friends of the victims, as well as people who live and work near the bridge and have witnessed a suicide.
Rachel Izzo was only 16 when a friend and soccer teammate jumped to her death from the Aurora bridge. At the funeral, all the team members wore their soccer jerseys as a tribute. “It was my first funeral,” said Izzo, 20, who recalled her friend as an outgoing teenager who liked to change her hair color and was passionate about sports, like her. “She never missed a game.”
By the end of the year, a 9-foot tall fence on each side of the historic bridge will prevent people from jumping. It is the culmination of years of advocacy by people like Izzo, who got involved with nonprofit Seattle FRIENDS to make something good come out of what happened to her friend.
“It’d be great to see this happening everywhere so bridges are suicide-proof,” said Seattle FRIENDS founder Ryan Thurston, who has witnessed several suicides from his office window near the bridge.
You may think that people would go jump off another bridge if there’s a fence here, but research shows that’s not the case, explained Thurston. According to a study of attempted suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge, 94 percent of people go on to live normal lives, Thurston said.
“Bridge jumping is an impulsive act,” said Izzo. “For people that are particularly impulsive, there’s no way to take that mistake back.”
Installation of the fence is scheduled to begin next week and will continue for several months, with some lane closures from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday, said Greg Phipps, with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
The Seattle FRIENDS website has a section with frequently asked questions about the bridge and the need for the barrier. For construction updates visit wsdot.wa.gov.
April 21, 2010 at 5:22 PM