Help sign aims to prevent Vista Bridge suicides

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 5:27 PM

PORTLAND – Three people in recent months have walked away from a Portland bridge after calling a new suicide prevention hotline number posted there, and Commissioner Amanda Fritz is standing behind the investment.

A new sign posted on the Vista Bridge in Southwest Portland directs callers to trained professionals and volunteers at Lines for Life. The sign and the special local phone number started in September, at a cost of $150,000.

Fritz said the program has gotten off to a slow start—for example, only 18 calls have come through in the last three weeks—but it’s worth the cost.

“If it saves one life, and we know for sure it has on this bridge, then it’s a success,” she told KGW.

Lines for Life spokeswoman Deborah Zwetchkenbaum agreed the effort is worth any cost associated with it.

“In the past couple of months we have talked three people off the bridge,” she said. “To me that shows this is a need, and we can help and make a difference.”

City leaders and police want the public to know suicide is preventable and help is available.

“If you or someone you know needs help with suicidal thoughts or is otherwise in an immediate mental health crisis, Lines for Life is available 24 hours a day at (503) 972-3456,” said Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson

“We’ve all had moments when we are at the edge,” Zwetchkenbaum said. “And if we are lucky, someone has been there to reach out and grab our hands.”

Click here for more resources from the City of Portland

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KGW Reporter Reggie Aqui contributed to this report.

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