Last week, the 46th person jumped to his death from the Cold Springs Bridge. He was the third person to do so this year — fast approaching the highest number of fatalities in any given year.
This teacher from Cuesta College leaves behind many, many people who have been affected in the wake of this tragedy. He had a family, friends, students and colleagues who have felt this loss. Suicide does not merely affect those who die, but also those who are still living — including those first on the scene of these needless deaths at this location.
Sheriff’s Deputy and Deputy Coroner Ken Rushing has direct experience with suicides from the Cold Springs Bridge. He was one of the first responders three years ago, and watched helplessly, when an 18-year-old boy leaped to his death. “Although that tragedy was years ago, I can still recall the day it happened as if it were yesterday,” he said. “This tragic event will be in my memory for the rest of my life. I feel that if there had been some type of a barrier on the bridge, these people that have died would still be alive today.”
Had a suicide barrier been there already, there is a strong possibility these people most likely would still be alive. “Any type of restriction of means, in this case, a physical barrier, stops suicide at a particular location,” said Dr. Lisa Firestone, director of research and education for The Glendon Association. “It is false to assume a suicidal person will merely choose another means to commit suicide. Studies have proven that suicide rates tend to decrease in the surrounding communities when lethal methods are restricted. Furthermore, a less fatal attempt would at least give a person the opportunity to be saved — the jump from Cold Spring Canyon Bridge is 100 percent fatal.”
If you would like to hear more from Rushing, The Glendon Association would like to invite you to attend its 14th annual free community event, “Giving Voice to Hope: Stories of Survival and Change.” The event, focusing on violence and suicide prevention, will feature keynote speaker Aqeela Sherrills, world-renowned peace advocate who helped negotiate a treaty between Los Angeles rival gangs the Crips and the Bloods.
In addition, presentations will be made by Nancy Cornejo, a former gang member turned youth leader; Sarah Farmer, survivor of military suicide and founder of The Lehner Foundation; and Rushing. The program will be moderated by Firestone. A Community Resource Fair will take place concurrently, offering additional information to the public in English and Spanish.
Events are planned for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Santa Barbara High School Auditorium and at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at Allan Hancock College’s Marian Theatre.
To help demonstrate that our community values human life, lend your support to the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge Suicide Barrier Project. Please attend and voice your support at the upcoming SBCAG meeting at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 105 East Anapamu St., fourth floor.
For more information, click here or contact Joni Kelly at 805.886.1869 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Glendon Association