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Bill introduced this month looks to curb suicides by bridge jumping; garnering community support



A bill introduced this month aimed at lowering suicides is seeing strong support from advocate groups.

Rhode Island H 6002, introduced this month by Representatives Solomon, Donovan, Abney, Cortvriend, Shallcross Smith, Knight, Kazarian, Carson, Edwards, and Speakman, would put up safety guards hoping to lower bridge jumping and in turn decrease incidents where people take their own life.

If passed, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority would be directed to design a safety barrier and/or safety netting on the Mount Hope Bridge, the Claiborne Pell Bridge, and the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge. The design of the safety barrier or netting must be reported to the house finance committee and senate finance committee no later than January 1, 2024 with construction to begin no later than June 30, 2024.

Melissa Cotta, who started the group “Bridging the Gap for Safety & Healing, says that the installation of the barriers is long overdue.

“Bridge suicide in RI is a decades-long problem. So many people have lost their lives to bridge suicide here in Rhode Island and the number of people living with the pain of these losses is immeasurable. The ripple effect is huge.”

Cotta also states that there is strong support for the barriers in the community.

“The 2023 RI Legislative Session marks the 4th consecutive year the bridge barrier bills will be heard by the General Assembly. Family & friends who have lost loved ones, first responders & jump witnesses, mental health professionals, teachers, and so many others from our communities will be submitting written and verbal testimonials in favor of these bills at the hearings. I encourage everyone to do so. It’s an effective way to influence change. It’s important the legislators understand the devastating impact of bridge suicide from these unprotected, easily accessible, & lethal bridges. It’s time for Rhode Island to do the right thing and make their bridges safe for all.”

Almost three years to the day of a harrowing rescue, man jumps off of Mount Hope Bridge

Officials recover male victim that jumped from Jamestown Bridge

In addition to the bill being introduced on March 1st, it has been referred to Finance.

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