Until recently, there haven't been any plans to stop suicide attempts at the Monroe Street bridge. As a result, the Spokane Police Department has received about 250 calls to that very bridge since 2005. That's a rate of about 20 suicide related calls each year.
Spokane's newly created Suicide Prevention Task Force wants to change that, and stop that number from growing.
"For years we've done nothing, and that's unacceptable," chair of the task force, John Lemus said.
Major studies show installing a bridge barrier, one that removes the ability to jump off them, reduces the number of suicide attempts.
For example, the Ellington Bridge in Washington D.C. had safety barriers installed and it reduced the number of suicide attempts by 50 percent.
Spokane's Suicide Prevention task force wants to create its own safety barriers at the Monroe Street bridge.
Currently on the table are telephones directly connecting to a suicide hot line, netting, or artistic, physical barriers.
"I realize there's a historical factor with the Monroe Street Bridge and we've got the river. So we'll need to work closely with the arts community" Lemus said. "If we can make it a barrier that's artful to maybe go on the bridge--we'll definitely have to work with the city's historic preservation to consider that piece."
Last summer, Spokane law enforcement and fire officials said it's not feasible to patrol the bridge, but Lemus said that doesn't mean it's not on the table.
"It definitely takes a lot of money to fund public safety, so I'm sure there would be a hefty fiscal note attached to that," Lemus said.
As for funding, Lemus said the task force will consider petitioning the state legislature.
"It's great that we're doing this work now over the year so that in the 2019 session we can approach our legislators and say here's what we've come up with, can you help champion this," Lemus said.
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