News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Take Back The Bridge fundraiser for Crisis Clinic

By master · October 22nd, 2009 · 6 Comments

An event starting at the Aurora Bridge tomorrow is hoping to bring awareness to suicide prevention and to raise money for the Crisis Clinic of King County.  Take Back The Bridge is a project started by Seattle Firefighter, and Vine Christian Ministries Pastor, Heath Rainwater after he responded to the bottom of the bridge for a suicide attempt last spring.  Sadly, the result was tragic.  “As a firefighter, I’ve seen many, many, many suicides.  What made this different is I saw this man fall in front of me.”  Helpless to prevent that tragedy, he hopes Take Back The Bridge will inspire people to “build a better sense of community and bring more personal involvement into people’s lives.”

The 2-day event follows reports of at least three jumping incidents within a single week recently. According to statistics from Seattle FRIENDS (FRemont Individuals & Employees Nonprofit to Decrease Suicides), a person attempts suicide from the Aurora Bridge an average of once every three months, and the bridge is the nation’s second deadliest bridge for suicides. 

Starting in the next few weeks, preliminary construction will begin on a bridge barrier that will hopefully help deter people from jumping.  However, actual installation of the fence likely won’t begin until next spring.  In 2006, six emergency phone lines were installed along the bridge that enable people to call 9-1-1 or the Crisis Clinic’s 24-hour crisis line.  In an article written by the Crisis Clinic regarding the phones and bridge, they note “that effort has been insufficient in reducing the number of suicides.”  They also add:

Suicide is a serious public health issue. In 2007, King County had 223 suicides; 11% of all deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The phones on the bridge are a lifeline for SOME, although the phones alone have not significantly changed the rates of suicide attempts from the bridge.  And, while a physical barrier on the bridge may be effective, we also need to continue to invest in health care and mental health for everyone so that there are no barriers to getting help for anyone who needs it.

For anyone who wants to get help for themselves or someone they know, the number for the 24-hour crisis line is 206-461-3222 or 866-4CRISIS.  You can also visit for more information.

This is the schedule for Take Back The Bridge:

  • Friday, October 23:  A 24-hour prayer vigil begins on the bridge at 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 24:  Pancake breakfast at Vine Christian Ministries (4000 Whitman Ave N) from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.  Give what you can.  All proceeds will go to the Crisis Clinic.
  • Saturday, October 24:  Group walk over the Aurora Bridge at 10:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 24:  Neighborhood BBQ at Vine Christian Ministries at 3p.m.  Give what you can.  Proceeds benefit the Crisis Clinic.

If you want more information on any of the events, or to volunteer or donate money, visit Take Back The Bridge’s website. 

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gustopher // Oct 22, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    While I think that Crisis Clinic does good work, I really do wonder whether fetishizing Aurora Bridge does anything to reduce the number of suicides in King County as a whole, and whether the money being spent on the Aurora Bridge would better be spent elsewhere.

    There are, in a usual year, about 4 or 5 suicides from the Aurora Bridge, and about 225ish suicides in King County as a whole. The bridge accounts for about 2% of all King County Suicides.

    Even if we were to assume that everyone who was prevented from jumping off the Aurora Bridge were turned away from suicide forever (a rather dubious proposition), I would have to wonder whether the millions being spent on suicide barriers for the bridge would make more of an impact addressing the other 98% of suicides, or the root causes.

  • 2 fantasyg // Oct 23, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Dear Gustopher,

    I think comments like that are sad and out of touch. There have been well over 200 suicides from the Aurora Bridge. One business owner under the bridge has witnessed close to 80 of them over the years. If one of those people who jumped from the bridge was your son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father or friend…I don't think you would be spending any time wondering if it was worth a few million dollars to construct permanent barricades to prevent the often impulse decision to end one's life.

    The Take Back The Bridge project is designed to start at the Bridge, but reach the community, churches, schools, neighborhoods and homes in and around the city. It is a call to action to reach thoses who are hopeless, desperate or lost. Hopefully people will discover that there are people who love them and are here for them and there is a God in whom they can find peace and hope.

    It is easy to criticize something others are doing. I wonder what you are doing to address the problem of suicide in Seattle? Seattle ranks #2 in the country for suicides of all of the major cities in the U.S., second only to Las Vegas. Most of the suicides in Las Vegas are not from the residents.

    Suicide is preventable. This group believes that the love of Jesus Christ is the solution.

  • 3 Gustopher // Oct 23, 2009 at 7:57 am

    $5-8M of taxpayer dollars are being spent on suicide barriers that have not been demonstrated to significantly affect the suicide rates anywhere they have been installed in the past. It's a hard problem to measure, since the total number of suicides are so low in general, and there are a couple of poorly constructed studies concluding either that they prevent suicides or simply move them.

    Further, only 2-3% of suicides in King County are even at the Aurora Bridge.

    That's a lot of money, potentially just to move 3% of a problem to somewhere more convenient.

    You may think that I am sad and out of touch, but I'm an engineer. I want numbers for the effectiveness of public projects.

    Without any measure of effectiveness, you run the risk of deciding “Something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do this” without picking the right this.

  • 4 Greg // Oct 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    There has been lots of discussion about how to deter jumping from the Aurora Bridge. This concerns how the city responds once someone has jumped. In every corner of the city, except Lake Union and the ship canal, a medical or trauma emergency gets several firefighter/EMTs from the fire dept – jumpers from the Aurora Bridge get two police officers, few of which are EMTs, and one is busy driving the patrol boat. The two jumpers this month were deposited on a dock without the basic level of care required by King County Patient Care Guidelines. We know that immediate access to the level of care provided by Seattle firefighter/EMTs increases the survivability rate and improves survivor's quality of life. Unfortunately, the city refuses to design a system in which the first providers of emergency medical service are part of the famous Seattle Medic One system. Until this happens, more of our friends and family members will die, and those that survive will have to deal with repercussions from injuries that could have been averted.

  • 5 Me // Oct 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I had a friend jump off the bridge about 4 years ago. If they had barriers up he either would have found a way to get over it, or he would have just used the gun that was tucked away in his pocket. I think (and so do my friends that knew him) that building the barriers are a complete waste of money. He would have killed himself anyway, we think he just thought that jumping off the bridge would be prolific.

  • 6 what? // Dec 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    people who want to jump from the aurora bridge won't let a fence prevent them from doing it. it is a waste of money and time. let people make their own decisions about their lives!

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