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Coronado Mayor Discusses Suicide Prevention Barriers, Controversial Tweet

Coronado Bridge
Rennett Stowe
Coronado Bridge
Coronado Mayor Discusses Suicide Prevention Barriers, Controversial Tweet
Coronado Mayor Discusses Suicide Prevention Barriers, Controversial Tweet GUEST: Richard Bailey, mayor, city of Coronado

>>> The Coronado Bridge does not want the reputation it is in danger of getting. With work underway to build suicide safety nets on the golden great bridge -- Golden gate Bridge, the Coronado Bridge is the biggest set of suicides in America. They saw that possibility coming and asked Caltrans to study the feasibility of constructing suicide barriers on the bridge. This week they released prototypes of those barriers. Joining me is Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey. Welcome to the program, Mayor. I want to start out by asking about a controversial tweet by a new Padres radio host promoting his new radio show. It shows the Coronado Bridge in the image of the bridge in the background with the words jump. And the tagline is to a new morning show. What went through your mind when you read that tweet. >> Personally I found the tweet disgusting and offensive especially to anyone who is suffering from or anyone who knows someone who is suffering from mental health. I think that while they were exercising their First Amendment right, my whole thing is that you have listeners and re-sponsors who will choose to exercise their right as well and choose to respond accordingly. If the image was of a local school and the caption read to shoot and the tagline was to shoot over to their station, I would respect that that response was equally as swift. We would've seen more outrageous and the community. >>> Since the bridge opened in 1969, estimates show that there have been 400 deaths by suicide from the bridge. That rate is increasing by the last several years. What are you hearing from residents about how they have been affected by the suicides. >> I know personally two individuals who took their lives on the bridge. And if you live in Coronado you might also know someone who has jumped from the bridge. In addition to the suicides, the people have also viewed, there is also an impact to our region's transportation network. The bridge carries approximately 80,000 cars a day. Whenever there's an attempted suicide and in 2016 we have 35. The bridge is shut down to traffic in both directions. Not only is this a moral obligation to solve the issue, but also it affects our region's transportation network and our day-to-day lives. >>> So you have seen what the Caltrans people have come up with when they are talking about suicide barrier options for the Coronado bridge. What do they look like and how much are they. >> The options really range from some type of physical barrier that could be installed above the guard rail and there are a few variations of that guardrail to a net. Also to a nonstandard option that is being referred to as a thistle. These options raise -- range in price from $25 million for the barriers to $159 to the nets. >>> Does Caltrans say what option is more effective in deterring suicides ? speaking as of now they have not stated their preferred option. The feasibility study with a high-level feasibility study. Now going forward the test will be for Caltrans and regional officials to come together to identify options that will make more sense into a more in-depth feasibility study. >>> Do these prototypes seem to you more effective than the other ? >> I support any design that gets the job done. One of the challenges we face is that as you drive across the bridge the view is iconic. We do not want to obstruct the view. At the same time we want a solution that will work. The definition of work is something that will prevent suicides. >>> Which ever these prototypes that are chosen, there is a question about funding. If you're going to pay that much money for a suicide barrier, wouldn't that money perhaps be at better used for men's health services instead because people who are determined to commit suicide may do it by one means or another ? even if they cannot do it from the Coronado Bridge? Speak into be honest, when I first learned of this issue as an electric -- elected official Coronado. Was initiated and I want to tackle. The reason why is because I have the same mindset. I assumed that people were committed to the idea of suicide would find another outlet. If not the bridge something else. After research, I found that the research today shows that if you can remove an impulsive outlet like a bridge as an option for suicide, you will see suicide rates throughout that region decrease. As I'm each and -- mentioned we have to remove outlets for suicide. In addition to reducing the number of suicides throughout our region, what I believe you will find is that the operational efficiency of the bridge and subsequently the entire network will be improved. I look at this issue is not just a mental health issue but a transportation issue. >>> As this conversation goes on about what to do about the Coronado Bridge when it comes to suicides, the Port of San Diego is moving forward with a project to install lights on the bridge. What impact do you think that will have on suicides? >> That remains to be seen. Some in our community feel strongly that the more attention you draw to the bridge, the more the bridge will become a suicide magnet. My hope is that the ports and proponents of installing suicide coat deterrence will work together. And allow both projects to move forward and produce a timeline of both projects perhaps by reducing the requirements that are necessary. That would be a big help for our cause and for their cause as well. >>> Who makes the final decision about which design is chosen and whether a suicide barrier goes up at all. >> That decision comes from the state. The state of California will make that decision through the agency of Caltrans. We are hoping that funding will come from the California transportation commission. We help there are sources available that can be set aside to improve the efficiency of the bridge. Although the funds cannot specifically be used for suicide deterrence, we believe the funds can be used for any type of project that will improve the transportation efficiency throughout our region. >>> I have been speaking with Richard Bailey Coronado Mayor. Thank you so much.

This week, state transportation officials released the results of a feasibility study on possible suicide prevention barrier options for the Coronado bridge. Yet, lack of funding may delay the project.

Since it opened in 1969, nearly 400 people have jumped to their deaths, according to the Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention. The Coronado Bridge has the second highest number of suicides behind the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where suicide prevention nets are currently being installed.

RELATED: While Suicides Off Coronado Bridge Add Up, Lighting Project Raises Concerns It Could Get Worse


News of the study came on the same day a host at the radio station that broadcasts Padres games tweeted a controversial promo for his new radio show with a photo of the Coronado Bridge and the phrase " a new morning show."

The Padres responded Tuesday to the tweet, posted by Kevin Kline who is employed by the broadcaster Entercom Communications, with a statement which reads in part, "We find the comments made last night by Entercom’s employee offensive, insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mental illness and suicide are not joking matters. Additionally, we’ve expressed our concerns to Entercom around the tone and direction of the station they have chosen to create..."

Kline's tweet has since been deleted. Later, Kline tweeted an apology, saying the "comment was reprehensible and inexcusable."

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey reacts to the study's findings and the controversial tweet Tuesday on Midday Edition.

Suicide-Prevention Resources

The It's Up to Us campaign is aimed at empowering San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness and seek help.

SDSU: Go here for high-risk indicators.

Finding Help: Access & Crisis Line (888) 724-7240.

San Diego Crisis team: (800) 479-3339

SDSU Counseling & Psychological Services: (619) 594-5220.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.