My mother recently sold her house in Little Compton; the former snow bird is now a full-time Floridian. My last blood relation has left The Ocean State. It’s only a mater of time before Lola and I relocate to Austin. So I was feeling wistful driving back from LC to Providence carrying mementos of 43 summers by the sea. As I crossed the Braga Bridge out of Fall River, I noticed that work crews were putting the finishing touch on the span’s refurbishment: suicide barriers. The fences look well-designed for the job. Saying that . . .
If one possessed a bit of ingenuity, an aspiring bridge jumper could throw a CMI steel grappling hook over the top of the suicide barrier, hoist themselves up, lift themselves over and say goodbye to this cruel, cruel world. They’d need to be strong, quick and determined, but it could be done.
Perhaps people who are concerned about Braga Bridge jumpers must now consider banning grappling hooks. Or maybe just “Saturday night special” grappling hooks like the Black Ninja Folding Grappling Hook W/ 33 Foot Rope. Yours for $19.95 from Amazon with Free Super Shaver Shipping for qualified customers.
I’m only half joking. Why should the government spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. tax money to prevent people from jumping to their deaths from the Braga Bridge? Couldn’t some poor soul look at the barriers from, say, the bottom of the bridge, think “nope, too difficult,” and shoot themselves in the head?
Ah yes, guns. Gun control advocates would have you believe that “easy access to guns” enables suicides. Restricting firearm sales would supposedly prevent at least some suicides. If one life is saved . . .
It won’t be. International suicide statistics prove conclusively that firearms are not a key variable. Japan, where the government bans civilian gun ownership, ranks seventh. China ranks ninth. And so on. The “gun happy” United States ranks 38th, below gun control intensive Sweden, Norway and Ireland.
So why spend time, effort and money trying to restrict access to the means of suicide? Common sense tells us that there are plenty of ways to kill yourself on a public highway. A family friend jumped off an overpass into traffic. A classmate drove his motorcycle straight into a truck.
Common sense tells us that the best way to prevent suicide: look out for people in distress and intervene whenever and wherever possible. Improve our mental health care services so the pros can do the same.
Meanwhile, and here’s the big one, there’s nothing wrong with shrugging our shoulders and just living with it. “It” being the possibility of suicide by bridge, gun, knife or whatever.
Of course, that’s not politically correct. Political correctness demands that we, as a society, should be seen to be doing something. More to the point, guns are inherently deadly and should be banned from “high risk” individuals and suicides should not be seen in places where we can see them. streetsights.org puts that one in perspective . . .
Let’s face it, nobody wants to think about the issue of suicide, specially around the holidays. But the Providence Place Mall has become the City’s Mecca for suicides, the place of choice for many distraught people. There have been approximately 7 completed suicides there (not counting the unsuccessful attempts) . . .
Studies have shown that barriers deter the imminence of an attempt, but barriers also minimize future attempts by the person thus deterred (the Braga bridge in Fall River, Massachusetts, has such a barrier).
Citation? Studies have shown that people who say studies have shown without showing their source (to allow independent thinkers to check the methodology) are using language to paper over serious issues with their logic.
Is Francisco Gonzalez seriously suggesting that people who are suicidal give up if they’re frustrated by suicide prevention architecture? In the same way that gun control advocates maintain that eliminating “easy access” to guns stops suicides? He is. And his solutions make almost as much sense as banning people taking anti-depressants from firearms ownership.
Most depressed individuals arrive at that precipice of life with great ambivalence: that dynamic can work in our favor by limiting public access (locking doors after hours), raising railing height (fencing off precipitous jump-spots), and posting suicide prevention signs (Samaritans [272-4044] and Lifeline [800-273-8255]).
Francisco’s last suggestion has merit. Society needs to talk about mental health issues, and let people in crisis know that they have options, and post contact info at places where suicidal people may be planning to take their life. Gun ranges, for example, should have these same signs (by their own volition, I might add).
Putting up barriers to gun ownership or suicide “jump-spots” is a way to pretend that we care. To salve our conscience even as we do nothing substantive to address the serious issues surrounding mental health. They’re a waste of time, effort and money. As anyone who’s seen 53 summers come and go knows, we have precious little of those to spare.