( Above photo: Friends of the Bridge’s depict their opinions on the suicide barrier through performance art.)
The debate over the proposed barrier on Cold Spring Bridge is long from over. On Monday, June 2, and Tuesday, June 3, Marc McGinnes and Garrett Glasgow continued their fight in opposition to the proposed suicide fence. (The Glendon Association, longtime proponents of the project, did not have a significant attendance at either event.) On Monday evening’s discussion, Glasgow first presented the theory of means restriction. If a suicidal person is restricted from one lethal means, will he or she resort to another or rethink the decision altogether? Therein lies the debate. Supporters of the barrier say suicidal people are ambivalent about suicide and impulsive with their decision. If they see that their preferred means of death is impossible, they will reevaluate what they are doing.
A major concern came from Sheriff’s Commander Dominick Palera. His stated his concern with the fact that the side ledge is only about 32 inches high, which comes up to his mid-thigh. If an officer is persuading a jumper to rethink his decision and eventually approaches the person to prevent them from falling, major dangers present themselves. If a barrier is in place, both jumper and officer are saved.
The competing theory is that of substitution. Opponents of the bridge barrier say that if a suicidal person sees the impossibility of jumping off the Cold Spring Bridge, he or she will only find another bridge from which to jump or another means of suicide altogether. Glasgow stressed the point that preventing suicides at one location does not mean lives are being saved. However, he acknowledges that it is nearly impossible to know if these suicidal people are indeed choosing another bridge from which to jump or not committing suicide at all.
On Tuesday afternoon, Friends of the Bridge sponsored a small street performance in front of the County Administration Building, followed by a discussion led by McGinnes. As part of the performance, the man, dressed as a construction worker with money poking out of his clothes and hardhat, held a chain-link fence and seemed to wander without a purpose, searching for somewhere to put his fence. Soon appeared the Cold Spring Bridge (demonstrated by Ann Chevrefils), and he knew he wanted his fence there. McGinnes continued the discussion following the performance. He stands firm in the belief that the barriers will send the wrong message to potential jumpers: “We don’t want you jumping here.”
Next Monday, June 9, will be an official Caltrans public hearing in the Faulkner Gallery of S.B. Public Library. Another Caltrans public hearing in Solvang will be Tuesday, June 10, in the Veterans Memorial Building.