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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Build the Damn Fence Already

posted by on April 17 at 15:05 PM

Last night, Seattle Police officers spent 45 minutes trying to talk a man down from the Aurora Bridge. It didn’t work.

Police were called just before 10pm, and a group of officers spent 45 minutes trying to coax the man down, before he leapt to his death from the north end of the bridge and landed on the pavement below.

According to the state’s own Aurora Bridge suicide prevention website, more than 50 people have committed suicide on the bridge since 1995. Nine of those were in 2006, and there were at least seven more in 2007.

This is going to happen again, and again, and again until the city and the state get their shit together and builds a barrier on the bridge, or close it off altogether. And yes, fences work.


Since 2006, neighborhood groups and community activists have been pushing for a suicide prevention barrier on the bridge.

It’s an old bridge, with historical landmark status, so there’s been a lot of hemming and hawing over the logistics of building and maintaining a fence. Instead, the state installed a phone system which connects directly to a crisis counseling line. Clearly, that’s not enough.

The process has also been slowed by some community groups, who made a fuss about the barrier—which will save lives—because it might block the view from the bridge.

At some point, neighbors relented and in the last few months, things have been coming together. Community groups from Fremont and Queen Anne met with city and state reps to discuss potential designs for the bridge, but it’s going to be at least two years before anything gets built.

When people repeatedly get hurt at intersections, we put crosswalks and stoplights in. When people get shot at nightclubs, the city shuts them down. So when one bridge becomes such an attractive spot for people to kill themselves, why is it taking us so long to build a fence?


Photos via Flickr

RSS icon Comments


What a sad photograph.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 3:15 PM

View from the bridge?!?

I am usually death-gripping the wheel in mortal fear when I drive over the Aurora Bridge. Those lanes are so narrow and people drive so fast, (and so poorly,) that nobody should be trying to enjoy any other view than the road in front of them up there.

Why is everyone in Seattle so flipping obsessed with views?

Posted by Lobot | April 17, 2008 3:16 PM

Yes, build the fence.

Because, you know, people intent on committing suicide are incapable of climbing fences. Just like Mexicans will be incapable of climbing the fence we build along the border.

More fences, everywhere please. They're for our own good.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | April 17, 2008 3:16 PM

Fences work only in a limited sense. It's just shuffling the deck chairs. The supply (potential suicide) merely shifts to another avenue to commit suicide.

There's these things called bridges everywhere around us - you close one off and you merely shift the eventual result.

This is why the phones on the bridge make sense, but the fences are scalable by anyone determined to jump and those who find them a deterrent will just go somewhere else - like the locks, a tall building, on a boat, a ferry, whereever.

All you do is move the problem. The end result is pretty much the same. Except now it will be in a new place less able to provide resources to give the attemptee some useful help.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 17, 2008 3:17 PM

The guy jumped around 11:00 PM and his body was still there in daylight today for somebody to take a picture of? WTF. Were they taking time to determine cause of death?

Posted by El Seven | April 17, 2008 3:18 PM

when i lived in Cincinnati, ONE kid threw a rock or brick off an overpass & hit the windshield of ONE car on i-71. within a year, EVERY overpass across a freeway had an 8' high fence that curved in 2' or 3'. no debate, no process, no historical or aesthetic considerations whatsoever.

classic cincinnati: black kid hurts white driver. no expense spared, no obstacles to immediate action allowed.

Posted by max solomon | April 17, 2008 3:18 PM

The state should instead provide a free shuttle bus to Deception Pass. It would be cheaper than the fence, and just as effective at solving "the problem" ("The problem" being residents and businesses are fed up with bodies landing on the pavement in their neighborhood).

Posted by Mahtli69 | April 17, 2008 3:20 PM

What is it about that bridge that makes it such an attractive spot to jump?

More importantly, what's to keep people from climbing the fence or finding another bridge?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | April 17, 2008 3:21 PM

"which will save lives"

Saving lives of people who don't want to be saved is only a good thing if you subscribe to a "maximizing life" theory of ethics.

If you're just annoyed with the clean-up issue, though, then maybe you should advocate for better, cleaner suicide options for those who wish to end their lives.

Jumping from heights is less horrible, for many, than shooting oneself in the head or slashing one's throat or hanging. And, given the lack of availability of reliably lethal but not excruciatingly painful drugs, those are pretty much your options these days.

On the "impulsive" angle some have brought up - many suicides or would-be suicides want to kill themselves for years, but need a major life event to push them over the edge into very-much-rationally-desired death. I think it's wrong to label all apparently "impulsive" suicides as improper or wrong.

People who want to live are dying every day. Maybe we should focus on helping those folks instead? Hence all the focus on people getting shot at nightclubs and hit by cars at intersections, JSL.

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 3:21 PM

When people get shot at nightclubs, the City shuts them down.

Yeah--because those club owners shouldn't be shooting their patrons, and handing out guns.


Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 17, 2008 3:21 PM

You all have your hearts in the right place. Your brains? Nowhere to be found.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 17, 2008 3:22 PM

let them die. weed out the weak.

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 3:22 PM

We should seriously spend $2 million to save 4 people a year?

I don't think so.

Posted by Chris | April 17, 2008 3:24 PM

@5, That photo is from last year, not the most recent suicide.

Posted by cmaceachen | April 17, 2008 3:25 PM


"On the "impulsive" angle some have brought up - many suicides or would-be suicides want to kill themselves for years"

don't you mean "suiciders"

Posted by cochise. | April 17, 2008 3:27 PM


No kidding, Will? I knew you were ignorant about a pretty long list of things but I didn't know suicide was one of them.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 3:28 PM

#15, Sure brother, though I think a "suicide" could be a person who wants to commit suicide. I don't think I've ever heard the word "suicider." (and the content spell checker doesn't recognize it, QED!)

Or is that a whitsle?

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 3:29 PM

Absolutely ludicrous post, based on a ridiculous premise.

Obviously, bridge-related suicides have increased because our gun laws are so tough. Allow more people access to guns, and they won't jump off as many bridges to off themselves.

Common sense, people.

Posted by frederick r | April 17, 2008 3:32 PM

You think a barrier won't work?

"Someone jumps off the Bloor St. Viaduct bridge on average every 22 days, according to the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. Close to 80 suicides have been committed in the past eight years, and about 16 attempted suicides. In recent memory, two of them have been UofT students. The Viaduct is the second largest suicide magnet in North America, after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge."

The article is from 2003. The "Veil" works. Build the damn fence.

Posted by DLF | April 17, 2008 3:35 PM

@12: I agree with you 100%; it's too bad there aren't more forwad thinkers in this city. Instead everyone's so caught up on this notion that human life is so valuable that need to protect the lives of those who don't want such protections themselves. I think you'd enjoy the blog post I wrote on this issue:

What I can't seem to figure out is why Jonah cares so much about suicidal people and is so bent on building an ugly fence that will be aesthetically disgraceful to protect these weaklings. Why don't you stop caring about other how other folks live (and end) their lives, Jonah, and focus more on your own?

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | April 17, 2008 3:35 PM

#16 is right in a sense (as elenchos tends to be) - I think jump-from-bridge-type-suicides are what is termed in the literature "excess" suicides, like the suicides that follow a highly-reported suicide. That is, the suicide rate goes up for a bit, but doesn't dip below the ordinary rate after the wave of suicides, therefore they're "extra." My position is that "extra" suicides are people who only don't kill themselves because of an immorally high level of suicide prohibition.

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 3:37 PM
Posted by DLF | April 17, 2008 3:38 PM

My first thought was "like a fence on a bridge is going to keep someone from killing themselves!" But Jonah helpfully provided a link to a study that seems to show that fences may reduce suicides from jumping.

Of course, it's the "from jumping" part that's problematic. There's no indication in that study or anywhere else that fences keep people from killing themselves, merely that they may reduce the number who do so by jumping.

Posted by also | April 17, 2008 3:39 PM

thanks #20.

People need help from time to time, it has happened to us or people we know present party included. I worked at a Crisis Clinic for a while, I know how shitty and fucked up peoples lives can get. You can get help, there are places for you and people who do care. You don't need to run out on I-5 during rush hour in order to get the attention you need. Glamorizing these spots just make people want to join the hordes of nameless lemmings who have already taken the plunge. People die every day. If you need to take your life, do it at home and do some goddamn research. Dont splatter your brains in front a school bus full of kids and ruin their chances of a happy life.

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 3:39 PM

@17 sorry my sister.

i didn't mean for you to go through the trouble. it's a relatively new word.

Posted by cochise. | April 17, 2008 3:40 PM

Yes, by all means put up the fence. And while we're at it, put up a fence around all abortion clinics. Because every life is sacred. And we must do all we can to preserve every last one. Except for that asshole who cut me off in traffic this morning. I'm going to shoot that stupid bitch if I ever see her again.

Posted by Life is precious | April 17, 2008 3:42 PM

Besides Jonah's link that Will didn't read and 23 completely misread, here is another one

Conclusions: Physician education in depression recognition and treatment and restricting access to lethal methods [like the fucking fence] reduce suicide rates. Other interventions [like the fucking phones] need more evidence of efficacy...

You can imagine that the fence has no overall effect, but you'd be wrong. The fence will reduce the suicide rate. As far as the misanthropes chiming in, I have to ask why you even have an opinion. You're a misanthrope, aren't you? Shouldn't you be fucking off?

“Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 3:44 PM

Don't these people understand that committing suicide is illegal?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 17, 2008 3:45 PM

Are people really that fucking concerned about views? It was used as a reason not to tear the viaduct down, and now it's an excuse not to build the fence? Tell these fucking whiners to get their views when they're not fucking driving.

Posted by Gitai | April 17, 2008 3:46 PM

What is it about that bridge that makes it such an attractive spot to jump?

The views, of course!

Posted by crates | April 17, 2008 3:48 PM

@27, I hope you're not including me as a misanthrope. I think it's wrong to reduce the suicide rate by force because living should not be forced - it's the same as slavery. It's wrong to force someone to live if they want to die.

Reducing the suicide rate does nothing about suffering. Non-suicides just get be less aware of it.

#25 ah now I see the source of this neologism. Also a new use of "had relations." Brilliant!

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 3:50 PM


Posted by kid icarus | April 17, 2008 3:53 PM


What if we didn't want to use the bridge any more and we tore it down instead of putting up the fence? Would that also be using "force" to make people stay alive?

You're very silly.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 3:54 PM

You can build the fence, but it might not work. The study you linked to simply said "There was no evidence that suicidal individuals sought alternative sites for jumping." But jumping isn't the only method, right?

I propose building a giant, grey trampoline and burying it in the roadway below the bridge. The person will jump, bounce back up, and land safely back on the bridge.

Posted by him | April 17, 2008 3:57 PM

@13: Exactly. The only reason we are so concerned about these four people a year is because it's gross to clean them up and because this is a capital expense.

The 50,000 people a year who die in car accidents every year are just a cost of doing business, right? Speed also kills. Why not reduce the speed limit by 10 miles an hour? Look how many people we could save.

Why should those four people a year dictate the quality of life for those who are choosing to live?

I understand the crush of depression or other circumstance makes these people want to die, however it doesn't make them noble or any more important than the other people who die every day. I wish they would spend an additional $7 million on mental health care in this state, but since that's not a capital expenditure that gives more funds to WSDOT, it will never happen.

Posted by please | April 17, 2008 3:58 PM

@7, I would think that recovering the body from Deception Pass would be much more expensive than from the ground under the Aurora bridge, as it would involve the Coast Guard, Island County Sheriffs, etc.
Aurora--a shovel, a bucket, a mop, and a hose.

Posted by mmbb | April 17, 2008 3:59 PM

#30: Then fuck the fence--let's put up 1.5 million dollar condos. For density!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 17, 2008 4:00 PM

#33 I'm not questioning the particular action, I'm questioning the ethical foundation for it.

I completely agree that I am silly to try to raise awareness of my ethical position, because nobody cares about seriously discussing ethics except academics. It's not good politics. Oh well.

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 4:06 PM

How about a big circus net under the bridge.
That would be fun for everyone invloved I think.

Posted by irl | April 17, 2008 4:09 PM

Hasn't anyone ever thought about posting people on the bridge (Students studying Psychology, Security Guards with Tasers, fuck I don't know - Scientologists!?) Suicidal people are generally isolated and feel like they have no one to turn to. They won't pick up a phone, they will climb a fence, but chances are, if someone was there (not a fucking cop) to talk to them and get them help, they would not jump. People that determined to kill themselves will do it. In a town known for its suicide rate and progressive thinkers you would think someone would come up with a better idea than a fence. Besides, it would create much needed jobs, because with the economy going the way it is, we are not going to run out of suicides or smart, compassionate people looking for work.
A fence is a typical Seattle reaction. Obviously, just based on Slog commenters, people don't give a shit if people are so depressed that they want to end their lives - you just don't want to see it or clean it up. Nice.

Posted by smp | April 17, 2008 4:13 PM

@28 no it is not, there is no law in Washington State prohibiting suicide or suicide attempts, only assited suicides are prohibited.

(if i will be forgiven the morbidity, an asshole policeman could fine the person for "throwing material" from the bridge)

Posted by vooodooo84 | April 17, 2008 4:13 PM

50 people over 13 years really isn't that many.

I do agree with the people saying were need to treat root causes and not just force people to choose a different way to of themselves.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 4:18 PM

A number of you people are full of shit. I hope all of you "let 'em jump" asswipes get to experience firsthand the joy of losing a mentally disturbed close friend or relation to a preventable suicide. Yeah, I'm talking about you, Mr. Kill The Weak @20. Fucking scumbag.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 4:23 PM

The JAMA meta survey I linked to found that many studies show that easy access to suicide means is a root cause of suicide. Including guns, by the way.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 4:28 PM

Sister Y:

I agree. If people want to commit suicide, especially after receiving counseling, we should let them. Some people suffer, even after drugs, therapy, counseling, electroshock and if they want to end it, it's not our place to stop them.

We should work on counseling and healing; building fences if a waste of time and money.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 4:30 PM


so would you support a fence being placed around Kevorkian?

Posted by cochise. | April 17, 2008 4:35 PM

@44: The JAMA study says this

Conclusions Physician education in depression recognition and treatment and restricting access to lethal methods reduce suicide rates.

So if there is money to spend, maybe spending it on training physicians might be more useful?

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 4:37 PM

if they want to jump, let them jump. i don't want to look at an ugly ass fence.

Posted by dawn | April 17, 2008 4:40 PM

Boo-freakin-hoo Fnarf. If you really loved them, perhaps you should have had them committed. Not too tough to do if they are truly a threat to themselves or others. That's how you prevent suicides, not with some hairbrained fence. Time for you to jump down off your high horse.

Posted by Realist | April 17, 2008 4:43 PM


Yeah, like some kind of system where everyone has access to health care? Neat idea! Who is going to tell the presidential candidates? They could totally get some votes with something like that.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 4:45 PM

Said it last time this came up: what's to keep the suicide-intent person from throwing themselves in front of traffic on the bridge if they can't hurl themselves off the side of it?

For that matter, anyone that compelled is going to find a way to do it somewhere, bridge or not.

Posted by Wolf | April 17, 2008 4:45 PM

#44, it's true, physicians, veterinarians, and chemists all have well-documented increased rates of suicide. (Female doctors kill themselves at a rate almost equal to that of male doctors - females in the rest of society have a much lower rate of suicide than males.) The increased access to means *correlates* to a higher rate of suicide. But that's a far cry from saying it's the "root cause." I don't think I've ever heard a medical study use the phrase "root cause." Scientists tend to be more circumspect when talking about causation and correlation. Having access to lethal methods increases the rate of suicide, but having the syringe full of barbiturates in your hand doesn't, in and of itself, make you want to kill yourself.

#45, thanks - I also am pro-counseling (though not involuntary hospitalization), and pro-anything that improves quality of life and would make people not WANT to kill themselves. Like universal health care, reversing the recent bankruptcy law changes, better unemployment insurance . . . stuff like that. Speaking of "root causes."

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 4:46 PM

"Why don't you stop caring about other how other folks live (and end) their lives, Jonah, and focus more on your own?"

This coming from someone calling themselves Seattle Crime Blogger. Fucking moron.

Posted by w7ngman | April 17, 2008 4:46 PM

I agree with Fnarf. It is terrible to lose someone to suicide, mental illness isn't weakness. BTW.

Also, the reason the city wants to spend millions is not to "protect 4 people a year", Its to save money and time for the government because cops have to respond to these calls, and if you calculate the amount of man hours spent dealing with it, traffic, clean-up etc over the course of the the bridge's EXISTENCE, I think the fence is pretty damn financially sound.

Same goes with seatbelt laws. A car crash with injury vs. a car crash with fatality are very different dollar amounts. For those of you worried about spending money...

Posted by Original Monique | April 17, 2008 4:49 PM

I recall working at a client who is located in Fremont (near the bridge). A couple of years ago, a jumper landed on a car that was parked a few spaces away from mine. Luckily, the car's owner was not in the car. If so, he/she probably would have perished.

Posted by Fitz | April 17, 2008 4:57 PM

If a person is so selfish and inconsiderate that they inflict this pain upon their families and inconvenience upon the rest of us, I'd say that the world is a better place without them.

Posted by Let 'em jump | April 17, 2008 4:59 PM

Elenchos @ 50: There are a number of free clinics and mental health services available. Training medical professionals in suicide prevention is useful for everyone.

The "fence money" could be spent to increase the amount of free counseling available or as (a small part of) funding universal health care. Either of these make a lot more sense than building fences.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 4:59 PM

Sister Y: you are a heartless, ignorant shithead. Suicide is not a rational response to the motherfucking mortgage crisis; it is caused mostly by MENTAL ILLNESS. Before you start dismissing people as weak you should perhaps consider that YOU YOURSELF HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS; you're a sociopath.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 5:01 PM

I fully support building the fence. I value every life, with a few exceptions (see below)and I am thankful that the city and state have stepped up to the plate.

I wish that all of you fucking negative, "let them do it" assholes would just FUCK OFF. I would like to see if your stand on this matter changed after you saw 15-20 splattered corpses in front of you while you are minding your own business going to work. I would like to hear about the nightmares you have and the fear for your own safety after bearing witness to a few of these jumps. You and your blog disgust me, #12 DLF. If all the negativity represented in these comments were to be put to something positive, wow, what a better use of time and energy that would be. Tell me, do you just sit at home in your mother's basement, unemployed, with nothing better to do all day than post uneducated comments and blogs on topics that are trying to save lives and better this world? Yes, suicide is a personal choice, and a private matter, and if someone is going to do it, fine. BUT when they are going to land on the car of an unsuspecting innocent person who is leaving work at the end of the day, or directly in front of a mother pushing a baby stroller along the BG trail (BOTH have hapened BTW), I have a real problem with it. Do us all a favor, when it's your turn to jump off the bridge, wear a shirt that says "I'm #12" so I can find some comfort in it. GO FUCK YOURSELVES.

Posted by SomeoneWhoCares | April 17, 2008 5:10 PM

#58, sociopathy is a lack of compassion or empathy. I have huge empathy, both with families of suicides and the suicides themselves, and people who wish they could kill themselves but can't. Life is horrible and full of suffering. Sometimes there's no nice solution.

You have empathy for family members of a suicide, I appreciate that, but no empathy for suicides themselves. "Suicide is mental illness" is a tautology. No, not every suicide can be "fixed" by counseling. The latest studies show that most depression meds don't even work better than a placebo.

I would hope that if you knew me and the work I do, you wouldn't use words like that toward me.

Posted by Sister Y | April 17, 2008 5:14 PM

The question is: what are we trying to prevent?

Suicides? Great, will this DECREASE TOTAL SUICIDES in SEATTLE? Answer: No. The phones probably do help by decreasing suicides - so they are a good plan. The fence just moves the problem to another place (still in Seattle).

Bodies on walkways? Great, why not have a net over the walkway?

Look, I walked under Aurora today to get to work, and I'll walk under it to get home tonight - I'm your (literally) impacted population - and I'm saying you're wasting a lot of taxpayer dollars and making things worse.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 17, 2008 5:19 PM

I'm not so callous as to say "fuck it; let 'em jump". I just don't think a fence is a good solution.

The problem is suicide, not the bridge. If someone is determined to kill themselves, they will. If you build a fence, they'll climb over it. If you build an unclimbable fence, they'll find another bridge, or a gun, or step in front of a train, bring an electrical appliance with them into the bathtub... the possibilities are endless.

The fence everyone is referencing cost $5.5 million. So we can spend $5+ million on a fence which doesn't solve the problem. Or we can spend $5 million dollars on better education and access to free treatment for mental illness, which might actually help solve the root problem.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | April 17, 2008 5:20 PM

All you folks insisting that the fence won't reduce suicides: you're wrong, OK? You're just wrong.

Sister Y, I don't give a flying fuck who you are or what work you do; you disgust me utterly.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 5:23 PM

2 things are guaranteed in life:

Death and taxes. Why does something like euthanization seem so bad? Not like we're going to grind them up into Soilent Green (yet). Why string along Aunt Rosa in a coma for 15 years and keep her suffering? Mental illnesses for the most part cannot be healed. Let the person have the right to end their life. Do it gracefully and let the person have a right instead of forcing them to make art on someones sidewalk.

As population grows, we as a whole are nothing but a virus straining on this planet and killing its resources. Do a favor and make sure that if you don't want to be here, something can be arranged.

Fnarf - please do you think you are the only person in this world who has lost a loved one that way? Quit being such a selfish fuck and spray that sand out of your vagina.

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 5:26 PM

Elenchos: Your comment on a woman causing self-induced abortions for art was "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

Why is someone else ending life for art "boring" but someone choosing to end their own life something to be prevented at all costs?

Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-choice but I think this is just ridiculous hypocrisy.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 5:34 PM

Fucking scum, bobcat. I'm embarrassed to breathe the same air as you.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 5:34 PM

Dawgson, if you're not funny, and you're not insightful, don't expect me to care what you say. If it's just that you're drunk this afternoon, that's cool. Catch you when you sober up.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 5:37 PM

i'm getting the hose ready, bend over brother. I think we can get a big sand castle out of that buildup in there!

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 5:38 PM

@67: So "zzzzzzzzzzzz" is humor now? Fuck off.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 5:42 PM

Any one of you who can look at that picture of the body under a yellow tarp and think "huh, must not have wanted to live very much; good riddance, more food for the rest of us" is a heartless, soulless, mindless piece of garbage. That person had birthday parties and tasted strawberries and laughed at the movies and loved and was loved by other human beings. All of that was lost in a moment of agony and desperation and fear.

If that doesn't mean anything to you you are yourself less than human. Will, Dawgson, Seattle Crime Blogger: you are not human beings, you are automatons, foot soldiers of the apocalypse. Your callousness is based on ignorance of how mental illness works and what can be done about it; it's that very thoughtless, cavalier attitude toward your neighbors that disgusts, more than any active antipathy. You horrify me.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 5:43 PM

Bobcat, I think there's a war going on in Iraq you might need to go check out. Or maybe you could find a nice job as a prison guard in Alabama.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 5:46 PM

is a unicorn chaser (or slog equivalent) too much to ask for here?

Posted by drew | April 17, 2008 5:46 PM

Hey Fnarf, I heard if you jump off the Aurora bridge theres a big ol' invisible trampoline that bounces you back up! I'll go die for our government if you give that a shot!!!

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 5:51 PM

@70: All I am saying is: Spending 3.5 million dollars to POSSIBLY deter suicides doesn't make sense. Education and increased mental health services would be a much better use of that money.

Anyone who is sufficiently motivated to kill themselves will find a way. Putting a fence up won't change that.

I am sorry for you loss, but I think you're not thinking clearly about this.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 5:53 PM

What Fnarf said.

Posted by Cascadian | April 17, 2008 5:54 PM

@67: To clarify what I was saying earlier when my temper got the better of me: I'm sick to death of Slog commenters who oscillate between knee-jerk progressive opinions and mindless dismissive snark. YOUR pet causes should be taken deadly serious but everything else is just a joke. It's incredibly frustrating, intellectually lazy and LAME.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 5:57 PM

Interesting comments thus far - a lot of personal attacks to say the least. I think what people have to remember is that there is a neighborhood of sorts directly below the Aurora bridge which is eye witness to lifeless bodies dropping from the sky - i.e. the bridge. No matter if a fence does or does not prevent wholesale suicide within Seattle there's a large portion of Lake Union citizens forced to witness this. I believe Aurora Bridge is no. 2 behind the Golden Gate in San Francisco at least on the west coast for jumpers. Lake Union - Fremont marina (?) residents I am SURE are all for a deterent (fence) - seeing as jumpers have caused a lot of residents to rethink their locations and move.

Also note that whoever mentioned in their post the building condos on the shores hit the nail on the head. From what I understand from a friend living in the area, there seems to be a bit of a land grab going on between two prominent developers for waterfront property with the express purpose of moving out the live-in marina community and erecting more luxury condos, etc.

WHEN this happens (more likely than an if) you better bet your bottom dollar that a fence WILL be built on the Aurora bridge. Waterfront views sell if they don't include someone offing him or herself and possibly falling onto a million dollar terrace. I'm not a fan of developing the waterfront with nothing but condos and other highrises, but if that happens - the fence will be built.

That being said - a fence would spare the current residents of further witnessing the demise of someone who has given up and doesn't care who witnesses the pain. Fences can be designed aesthetically - the cyclone fence on the bridge in Maine was the cheapest solution available at the time and eventually rusted out. Seeing pictures of that thing, it's no wonder people hated it, but that doesn't have to happen here.

Seattle is home to many very good design professionals and judging from the initial fence designs submitted for review, there should be an acceptable design that will be aesthetically pleasing, preserve some transparency for the view from the bridge and successfully deter a potential jumper.

Just my opinion - I'm signing off now.

Posted by just an architect - nothing more | April 17, 2008 6:03 PM

So let me get this straight.

All we have to do to end suicide everywhere and forever is fence in the Aurora Bridge?

If that's true, do it!

If not, don't.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 17, 2008 6:04 PM

set up a little taco stand and offer bong hits to the clinically ill. after 2 tacos and a couple rips they wont remember why they came up in the first place.

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 6:09 PM

So, YGTBKM, anything that doesn't achieve 100% perfect results is a waste of time? Feel the same way about laws against murder? Based on that, your ability to post on Slog should be terminated, since your success rate in conveying interesting or valid ideas here is close to zero.

Dawgson: this fence isn't my pet cause. It's the absolutely brain-dead and evil dismissiveness of even the IDEA that preventing seriously depressed people from throwing themselves off the bridge might be a good thing. Several of the commenters here, including you, are cheering them on. That's repulsive. You are repulsive.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 6:10 PM


It may be second to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it doesn't even come close to the same number of suicides. I believe the Golden Gate has more than a hundred every year.

I still think it's mostly a waste of money, but considering how much worthless crap our government spends money on, I won't be losing any sleep over it.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 17, 2008 6:18 PM

I don't believe a fence would have stopped Silas Cool.

Posted by Box me in please. | April 17, 2008 6:25 PM

It's funny Fnarf, you're always chock full of numbers for every other hot topic like plastic bags, pollution, traffic but today they're conspicuously absent. Exactly what percentage of suicidal people will not go through with their plans once this fence is in place?

Feel free to round off to the nearest whole number.

Posted by El Seven | April 17, 2008 6:25 PM

FNARF. No. Thats partly sarcasm.

But, looking at the expense (dollars and other wise), I do question if it's the most cost effective way to achieve the result of generally reducing the number of suicides. Reducing the number of suicides at this specific location possibly. But if this is about location specific suicides, then this isn't really about suicides at all. It's about the businesses under the bridge.

SO... if its not a 100% net reduction of all suicides (or even suicides in Seattle) that we expect, what is it? 30%? 10%? .000001%? and is that the best return on value (or would spending $4M more on mental health counseling in Seattle (or some other use) be more effective?)

If we determine that this is the best return on the dollar... then do it. If not, then do the other thing (or things).

BUT if this is really just about the Businesses under the bridge (who find these shenanigans inconvenient, distracting and maybe even bad for business) then it seems that fencing the entire bridge is excessive, and any fencing to be done ought to be paid for by those businesses.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 17, 2008 6:26 PM

El Seven: read the fucking link in the article.

Posted by Fnarf | April 17, 2008 6:28 PM

so Snarf -

what was soooo bad that turned you into such a birkenstock-wearing-pussy about this topic? Lets see when I was 10 I found a person from school hung in the fields with dogs eating his legs, then my clinically depressed roommate hung him self in his room when I was 17. I could go more, but I won't. Let all you amateur armchair internet psychiatrists analyse that. Where could they of received help? Sure they could of seeked out help but whatever. If you want to die, you should have the courtesy of doing so. Dont blame me, we as a collective whole called the human race need to re-assess our future and beliefs in order to prepare for the future.

Millions of kitties and puppies die everyday, why can't people choose that route?

Shit, put a fence up - that will SOLVE EVERYTHING! no one dies, it's like those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books for retards! awesome!

or just maybe your god doesn't allow that in his weathered book. Take the blinders off and open your eyes. With millions being born daily and overpopulation on the cusp shit needs to be done.

Posted by bobcat | April 17, 2008 6:48 PM

I don't know..I've always taken comfort in knowing that the bridge would be there for me if I ever needed it. I'd make sure to hit the water though. Landing on somebody's patio is just rude.

Posted by pox | April 17, 2008 6:48 PM

I did read that article Fnarf and I found it to be too vague. There's so many left out variables in that equation that the results are useless to me. That study went through the 80s for christsake, Cyndi Lauper was on the air and that could have skewed the decisions of many.

We need to take care of that LONG before it gets to the point of going up to a bridge. And it is possible but people generally have to get their heads out of their asses and start looking around more.

Posted by El Seven | April 17, 2008 7:12 PM

What I've learned today:

It is inappropriate to have an opinion about something one has not experienced the horrors/pleasures of first-hand.

The causes of successful suicides are irreducible. In turn, "unsuccessful" suiciders can generally point to a set of contingent (external) reasons why they didn't "follow through with it" (I'm thinking of some Chicken Soup for the Soul story...)

Reading Slog comments = driving by a train/car/bike/bus/plane crash.

Holy Shit!

Posted by el | April 17, 2008 7:24 PM

It is not just " a crisis counseling line" that the phones link to. It is the Crisis Clinic, which has been serving Seattle and King County for 44 years and deserves to be mentioned by name. Really, there was even a 1960's movie about our Crisis Clinic starring Anne Bancroft and Sydney Poitier. It is THAT famous.

Posted by Crisis Clinic | April 17, 2008 7:30 PM

Save the Sonics!

Posted by Sam Hill | April 17, 2008 7:49 PM

Dawgson, have you yet caught on to the fact that the Yale student abortion art was a hoax? By now everybody knows. I could smell that shit a mile away, cause elenchos he be one smart motherfucker. Word.

Not that I get props from you for how smart I am. Which is a crying shame.

Posted by elenchos | April 17, 2008 8:30 PM

Elenchos@92: I don't think you said it was a hoax (checked: no you didn't) but if that's what you were trying to convey, you were right.

Hoax or not: I still think providing funding to free mental health services is more useful than building a fence on one bridge.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 9:44 PM

Fnarf: I'm not saying we shouldn't try to prevent suicide. I just think there are better ways to do it.

If trying to prevent people from ever setting foot on the bridge makes me repulsive than so be it. I'd rather focus on helping mentally ill people get better than creating a barrier that will save a very small number of people.

Posted by Dawgson | April 17, 2008 9:56 PM

Fnarf, 51 people died in Iraq today - one was a suicide and the other 50 were blown up by him.


Look, nobody's asking you to jump. We already put up phones on the bridge so you can make a free call to a suicide hotline.

What next? We put guards near all the windows in any building taller than 6 stories?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 18, 2008 12:49 AM

The view's better on the way down.

Posted by Well then | April 18, 2008 9:58 AM

I have experience with the Bridge also. In 1976 my wife of five years decided she no longer wanted to live with me and wanted a divorce. The previous Christmas she had given me on of those "Love Is" dolls (if you're old enough to remember).

I had always believed that you married once and I was devastated that she wanted to leave.

I moved in with a friend and, after the divorce was finalized and I was having problems getting over it, he recommended that we walk out on the Aurora Bridge and throw the figurine over the side.

So, after sundown one evening, we parked the car and walked out on the bridge. Scared to death of the buses screaming by us, sure we were going to get blown off the bridge ourselves, we made it close to the center (didn't want to hit anyone underneath). Said a few words and dropped the little statue off the side.

It seem to take forever for it to hit. Not sure quite what it struck, but we heard it. The sound of it breaking was evidently exactly what I needed. It was almost like a black cloud was removed from over my head. That truly was the end of my marriage.

To this day my friend and I still laugh about the risks we took on that bridge and how his plan worked so well.

So, the rest of the story. I ended up marrying his sister two years later. We have two of the most wonderful children in the world and will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year.

I truly hope my ex-wife has found the same happiness that I have.

Posted by PhilM | April 18, 2008 11:47 AM

There are some places that just seem to draw people who are considering or intent on suicide. Every region has one but Seattle has a statistically higher suicide rate than most places in the USA and the Aurora bridge seems to really draw people to it. Perhaps it is just because of the way it looks when viewed from around town, lofty and alone.

Posted by inkweary | April 18, 2008 11:51 AM

For people who say this is a stupid idea, or that they will go somewhere else (which is false, check the stats) or whatever, please think about the people who have a personal tie to the bridge. My friend jumped off this bridge in May of 2006, and I can tell you, I want to get a barrier up there more than anything. Maybe it's not the most deadly spot in the world, maybe it would only save 10 lives a year. But those few lives would make the different to hundreds of people, whose lives have been changed forever by the death of one young girl. So the next time someone makes some sarcastic comment, talk to me and I'll show you the true colors of all of this. And then I don't think you'll be making sarcastic remarks anymore.

Posted by Rachel I | April 21, 2008 9:47 PM

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