In the wake of recent deaths, the Capitol Boulevard Bridge could soon see some new additions: four signs urging people to call the Crisis Clinic of Mason and Thurston Counties instead of taking their lives.
The effort to put up the signs started in mid-November after the second person in two weeks died under the bridge. Paul Larsen, manager of the crisis clinic, said the four signs would be fitted at the entrances to the bridge. He said he hopes the signs deter people from committing suicide.
“The signs will be there to raise awareness,” Larsen said. “They’ll let people know that there are other options, that there are people they can talk to.”
The project is in the planning stage. Larsen recently submitted a draft sign to the state Department of Transportation, the agency that owns and operates the bridge. Once they’re approved, the burden will be on the crisis clinic to have the signs made.
Larsen said he’s been working with the Facebook page Olympia Memes to raise money to have the signs made. The page generally pokes fun at the city but has also been involved in cleanup and charity campaigns.
After the Nov. 18 Capitol Boulevard Bridge death, Olympia Memes launched a campaign to have a crisis phone installed on the bridge. More than 1,000 people signed an online petition asking for the phone.
The two November deaths were the first since WSDOT built an 8-foot, 6-inch fence on the bridge in 2011. Before that, at least one person died after falling from the bridge each year between 2006 and 2011.
Olympia Memes posted the following update to the petition on Tuesday:
“We have been given the initial go-ahead by the Department of Transportation to install 4 signs on Capitol Blvd bridge indicating local resources and our areas crisis line. It’s not a phone, but it’s SOMETHING. WIN.”
Similar signs were posted on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge after a string of suicides, said WSDOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker. They were later taken down when the bridge’s fence was replaced in 2011 with an 8-foot, 9-inch fence designed to prevent people from jumping.
“We don’t have any problem with signs being placed on the bridge,” Baker said.
Larson said the signs will likely read, “Need help? Want to talk? Call the crisis line at 360-586-2800.”
He said he’s not sure when the signs will be installed.