Coronado Bridge could get new barrier to prevent suicides

SAN DIEGO -- The Coronado Bridge could soon see some type of barrier to help prevent suicides.

Nearly 20 people a year jump about 200 feet from the bridge and some living on Coronado Island have demanded something be done to prevent the suicides.

Tuesday night, Caltrans held an open house in Coronado to offer neighbors an opportunity to see the latest designs.

"We're seeing some big progress from a year ago. Now they’ve got all kinds of designs but I'm personally still leaning towards the tall fence," said Wayne Strickland, President of Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention.

A study by Caltrans is looking at how other cities have prevented suicides on bridges, in the hopes of seeing what's working. Currently, the bridge has a three-foot-tall wall along either side. They’ve come up with four ideas-- three kinds of fences and one netting, similar to what’s being used in San Francisco.

"With a net people could still jump in, that’s a 20-foot drop, so it would stop 90 percent of the people but the bridge is still closed for that," added Strickland.

This is both a mental health and transportation issue. Dr. Matthew Bruhain lives in Coronado and recently helped talk a distraught man off the bridge. A situation that might not have been an issue with more protection.

"Whenever you have that moment to stop that access point, you can get a much better ending," said Bruhain.

Although there were 19 suicides in 2016, there were another 35 attempted suicides, and every time that happens the entire bridge closes down.

"When that bridge is closed down, for whatever reason, attempted suicides or otherwise, that affects our entire region and that’s a tremendous impact to commuters. 100,000 commuters use that bridge every day," said Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey.

Caltrans’ final decision is expected next spring. The price tag will be tens of millions of dollars and no word yet who’s going to foot that bill.

The next town hall will be on Wednesday, November 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. at San Diego Community College.