Could netting prevent suicides on Sunshine Skyway Bridge?

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two of America’s iconic bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the George Washington Bridge in New York, are undergoing major changes.

Both projects include the addition of a unique netting to help prevent suicides. Safety netting is being added along the outer edges of both high-span bridges.

The changes have News Channel 8 wondering about the possibility of one day seeing safety netting added to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, where three people ended their lives by suicide in 2017 and 12 others committed suicide in 2016, according to The Florida Highway Patrol.

If there were to be any structural changes to the Skyway, they’d come through Florida’s Department of Transportation.

So, we reached out to FDOT to ask about the possibility.

The organization quickly responded and we learned a safety net concept is something the agency has reviewed before. “The safety of the traveling public on the state’s bridges is a top priority of the Florida Department of Transportation. The department has looked at a fencing system on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the past, however, FDOT has not found a system that would work and also allow inspection of the bridge.”

Adding more weight to each side of the bridge could possibly create instability for the mega structure.

One safety feature that’s helped save lives and has been in place for many years are the 24-hour emergency phones mounted at the top of each span.

Just by picking up one of those phones, that person will immediately be connected to a caring counselor at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “If they’re having thoughts of suicide and they’re aware that a resource is available and they will not be judged and somebody will speak to them and care about them. It’s very successful,” says Ken Gibson with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

If you, or anyone you know, is feeling desperate and just needs someone to talk to, simply dial 211.  That will connect you to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s full time staff of sincere and compassionate counselors.

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