By JESSICA DE LEON, Bradenton Herald
For a long time, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge has been one among Tampa Bay’s most iconic landmarks. But the 190 foot-high peak has additionally drawn a whole lot of individuals eager to take their very own life.
Most who’ve jumped from the highest of span have died. Each time, witnesses, first responders and family members are left traumatized.
Now, almost a yr since fences alongside the highest of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay had been accomplished, suicide charges have decreased dramatically.
Since the fence was accomplished on June 23, 2021, there have been 4 individuals who have nonetheless managed to leap off the Skyway bridge and died. Ten individuals have jumped however didn’t die, whereas one other 80 have threatened to leap, throughout the identical time interval.
“It’s been an efficient resolution to assist eradicate this downside,” Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins advised the Bradenton Herald.
Before the set up of the protection fence, suicides from the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge averaged between 12 and 15 a yr.
“There are many people who find themselves combating their ideas and emotions, and we encourage anybody who’s combating ideas of suicide to achieve out for assist,” mentioned Ken Gibson, a spokesman with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
The chrome steel, diamond-patterned security fence is sort of 11 toes excessive. The fence extends on all sides of the span, to the place the bridge is barely about 50 toes above the water. The opening between the northbound and southbound spans doesn’t prolong larger towards the highest.
Over the years, state companies have achieved different issues to stop individuals from leaping off the bridge.
Six telephones — that join on to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s suicide hotline — had been put in in 1999 alongside the highest of the span. Red indicators additionally let individuals know that assist is offered, encouraging them to choose up one of many telephones.
The Florida Highway Patrol additionally patrols the bridge 24/7, and cameras at the highest of the bridge are monitored. Pedestrian and stopped car detectors had been additionally put in by the Florida Department of Transportation in an effort to scale back response time when somebody parks on the bridge.
May is designated Mental Health Awareness Month nationwide. As of 2019, suicide was the tenth main reason behind demise general within the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,500 individuals, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For individuals between 10 and 24, it’s the second main trigger, and ranks fourth for these 35-44.
In 2019, “There had been almost two and a half instances as many suicides (47,511) within the United States as there have been homicides (19,141),” the National Institute of Mental Health says on its web site.
As a part of a daily column, Manatee County District 4 Commissioner Misty Servia this week burdened the significance of psychological well being in our neighborhood.
“There isn’t any disgrace in asking for assist from knowledgeable,” Servia mentioned. “In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s all work collectively to take away the stigma of psychological well being challenges and silence the disgrace by acknowledging that life is difficult and it’s okay to achieve out for assist throughout these laborious moments.”
NEED HELP? If you or somebody you realize is contemplating suicide, please name the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for confidential assist and route to useful sources. Help can also be accessible on-line by visiting: suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay will also be reached by dialing 2-1-1. or on-line at crisiscenter.com.
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