PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s the intersection of beauty and tragedy.
Southwest Portland’s Vista Bridge has long been called Portland’s “suicide bridge.” It’s 12 stories high, with a fall onto train tracks below.
And with a concrete railing that’s only 3 feet high, those nearby say it’s far too easy for someone to take the plunge.
On Wednesday, first responders arrived beneath the bridge to another tragedy. This time it was a 15-year-old girl, marking the third suicide this year from a bridge that’s on pace for a record number of deaths this year.
The problem here is so well-known that the bridge has signs for a suicide hotline.
“We’ve had a number of people see the signs and have called,” said Tom Parker with hotline provider Lines for Life. “[Some] are concerned about others and called as well.”
Still, after the death of a teenager Wednesday, those in this area are renewing their calls for barriers on the bridge.
“The city needs to get together right now, right now and get something up there,” said Bonnie Kahn with the “Friends of Vista Bridge” organization.
Kahn works below the Vista Bridge and has seen her share of suicides. She’s in favor of the barricades.
City leaders also are exploring the idea, but report it would cost an estimated $3 million. And that’s money the city doesn’t have. The city of Portland is already working with a $22 million budget shortfall. Still, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and city commissioners have said barriers are “a high priority.”
Either way, Kahn isn’t letting a city budget shortfall stop her mission to save lives that otherwise could end off this bridge. She’s raising funds for the barriers through her non-profit Friends of Vista Bridge organization.
“We have to come together and support suicide prevention,” Kahn said, “or have more 15 years olds jumping from the bridge.”
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