October 30th, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Activism, City Hall

Novick Says Although Vista Bridge Still Attracts Jumpers, Temporary Barriers are Working

"Suicide bridge" closed as cops talk to despondent man

vista_bridge_from_jefferson_street,_looking_east_(2012)Steve Morgan, Wikimedia Commons

The Vista Bridge has been closed since about 10 am, as Portland Police attempt to keep a man from jumping from the span known as "suicide bridge."

The adult male, police say is outside of the protective fencing that the Portland Bureau of Transportation installed this summer in hopes of stopping a blight of suicides from the Southwest Portland bridge. Five people jumped from the bridge this year before the city put up the barriers.

It's the second time this month cops have sent crisis negotiators to the bridge—a man was stopped from jumping on Oct. 7 by police.

Despite the recent high-profile negotiations, Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the transportation bureau, says the $250,000 9-foot temporary barriers are working.

"Before the barriers were up, we did not hear of instances of people being talked down from jumping, because people just went and jumped," Novick tells WW. "People have to work to a place where they can jump, and it gives them time to think about it. When they stop and they think about it, the police get out there to talk to them."

He says it may be be possible the city will extend the barriers to further prevent would-be jumpers, but the move would block access to the benches at both ends of the span. Either way, he says he's glad the barriers are putting enough space between the suicidal and their jump that police have a chance to intervene.

"I hope this incident ends well," Novick says. "Even if it doesn't, I think we’ve demonstrated time is valuable."

 
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