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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Story published at magicvalley.com on Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Last modified on Monday, November 13, 2006 11:55 PM MST

http://www.magicvalley.com/articles/2006/11/14/news_letters/opinion_letters.2.txt


Perrine BASE jumping invites more suicides
By JIM BANHOLZER
Hailey
If you are a smart shopper and travel to Twin Falls, then by now you’ve been distracted seeing jumpers purposely plummet off the 486-foot-tall Perrine Bridge, then spiral safely to banks of the majestic Snake River. While this towering bridge attracts sportspersons, brimming full of life, hardly able to contain their energies, its low railing design also tempts those of an opposite polarity. Sometimes people in the process of despair, jump off bridges without parachutes.

One of the world’s top suicide magnets is the Golden Gate Bridge, with no obstruction to prevent death leaps. Since 1937, an estimated 1,500-plus people have ended their lives by jumping off this San Francisco inducement. Thanks in part to an in depth series: “SFGate: Lethal Beauty,” officials there are conducting a study for constructing a suicide prevention barrier with funds gathered from government groups and private donors.

As Idaho’s population increases, the Perrine Bridge is apt to become more of a fatal attraction for the distraught if no barrier is constructed. In the “Lethal Beauty” series, it’s shown that “in the late 1970s, two scientific studies concluded those survivors of suicide attempts from the Golden Gate Bridge do not ‘just go someplace else.’” It would be wise to start a similar feasibility study now for constructing a suicide barrier and/or installing crisis hotline telephones on the bridge ends before more terrible tragedies occur.

Obviously, there is a challenge to redesigning or improving any bridge that will continue allowing BASE-jumpers to utilize it. Still, there are certainly ways to improve protocols of bridge jumping for legitimate sportsmen along with the construction of an improved barrier.

I urge those that are concerned and those with further constructive ideas about this to contact local newspapers and The Idaho Transportation and Health and Welfare departments.

4 comments:

jbanholzer said...

Surviving suicide
Support group starts in Twin Falls to help people cope with loved ones' suicides
By Blair Koch
Times-News correspondent
TWIN FALLS - Faye Potthast knows firsthand the emotional roller coaster people experience when a loved one completes suicide.

In 1989 her brother killed himself.

"I was sad," Potthast said. "I had never experienced having to deal with that kind of loss."

Just two years later she found herself coping with her husband's suicide. When her husband drove his car over the Jerome County side of the Perrine Bridge in 1991, she struggled with not only her own emotions but those of her three sons.

"We initiated family counseling right away, and it gave me an outlet to deal with the anger and denial. I had a tremendous amount of anger that he would do that to our children," Potthast said.

In February, counselors and support advocates formed Magic Valley Suicide Survivors, a support group open to anyone. Now they're trying to spread the word to people dealing with loved ones' suicides.

Anger, confusion, betrayal and even guilt are all normal reactions for those left behind. The new volunteer network, which will meet twice monthly, aims to provide mutual support and discuss personal, family and professional issues regarding a "completed suicide." That's a phrase meant to replace "committed suicide" - terminology which the support group's leaders try to avoid.

Potthast is the psycho/social rehabilitation director for Positive Connections in Twin Falls and the facilitator for Magic Valley Suicide Survivors.

"I am on a mission for people to understand that suicide is a death. People who have loved ones that have completed a suicide need to know that the things they feel are OK and normal," Potthast said. "It's OK to say they completed suicide and it's OK to talk about it. We need to talk about it."

Lynn Opdycke, clinical director and executive committee member for the South Central Idaho Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, also understands the turmoil surrounding a suicide death and how its stigma can hamper how people deal with it.

"Part of the goal for the group is to remove the stigma for survivors. Although it's not OK to complete a suicide, people need to understand they can talk about it. They need to be able to say those two words, 'completed suicide,'" Opdycke said. "For every suicide there are at least 100 people affected by it, and they all need support whether they know it or not."

In Twin Falls County those left behind after a suicide often see Chief Deputy Coroner Cherrell Jacobsen first. She applauds the formation of the support group and said it was needed for a long time.

"We are usually the first ones on the scene," Jacobsen said. "I try and be there for those left. They are going through so much, and although we have been able to guide them to private counseling we haven't had an open support group for everyone affected, and survivors need to know that people care for them and there is a place they can go for support."

Jacobsen will be in the group's attendance to lend support - and at times receive it.

"Sometimes even we need to cry," she said. "The group creates an environment where it's OK to cry. A suicide doesn't just affect those related or close to the person. The whole community is affected."

The Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho cites Idaho Bureau of Health Policy and Vital Statistics data showing that Idaho had the sixth-highest suicide rate in the nation for 2003, and that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults in Idaho.

"Every time there is a completed suicide in our community it has a devastating impact on our families, friends, students, teachers, police, employees and churches. This is an opportunity for those who have questions or are in need of support to meet, and as a group we can try and achieve insight and understanding," Potthast said.

Times-News correspondent Blair Koch can be reached at blairkoch@gmail.com or 316-2607.

Getting together

Magic Valley Suicide Survivors will meet at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday every month at Positive Connections, 647 Filer Ave., Twin Falls. Attendance is free. For information, call Faye Potthast or Mark Lopshire at 737-9999.

The new support group isn't intended for suicide prevention, but leaders know where to direct people who need help.




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Anonymous said...

Story published at magicvalley.com on Thursday, April 12, 2007
Last modified on Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:18 AM MDT

Photo courtesy of Katerina Drozdov
BASE jumper Yegor Drozdov, 29, of Revere, Mass., is pictured in Colorado. Drozdov, who loved extreme sports, died Tuesday when his parachute failed to open while BASE jumping off of the Perrine Bridge.

Parachute problem may have doomed BASE jumper
Mass. man was an extreme sports fanatic
By Cassidy Friedman
Times-News writer
TWIN FALLS - A BASE jumper who died Tuesday jumping from the Perrine Bridge may have entangled his hand while attempting to release his parachute.

Yegor Drozdov, 29, of Revere, Mass., landed on the southeast bank beneath the bridge shortly before 5 p.m. West winds were blowing at sustained speeds of 24 mph with 30 mph gusts.

An extreme sports buff, Drozdov raced cars, skied and had logged more than 200 sky dives and 50 BASE jumps, his wife, Katerina, said Wednesday.

Twin Falls County Sheriff's deputies called Katerina at the couple's home in Revere, a suburban beach town north of Boston.

They described their investigation to her, which she recounted in a phone interview with the Times-News.

"His hand got tangled in the bridle of the pilot chute," deputies had said, according to the widow. "When they found him it was still tangled around his hand. They said it was very windy and must have got tangled while he was falling because it's about five seconds that you have to open."

The "bridle" is a pilot chute linked to the rig that BASE jumpers hold as they jump and throw outwards to deploy their chute.

Drozdov was the owner of Alliance Motor Group, a car dealership with branches in Longmont, Colo. and Revere. Less than one year ago, Drozdov rented a second home in Longmont.

In Colorado, he began jumping at Mile-Hi Skydiving near Denver. At least once, he and a friend traveled to Twin Falls to BASE jump from the Perrine Bridge, Katerina said.

But on his last visit Drozdov told no one, she explained.

After staying with some friends in Sacramento, Katerina flew home Sunday. Her husband was scheduled to drive to Colorado either Monday or Tuesday.

"I guess he decided to stop on the way back," Katerina said. "He didn't tell anyone that he was going there."

It appears Drozdov was jumping alone, according to Nancy Howell, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.

At 4:46 p.m., an observer called dispatchers, reporting a BASE jumper's parachute had not opened.

Drozdov had made a courtesy call, according to protocol, alerting dispatchers he was planning to jump.

"He was very adventurous," Katerina said. "He like the extreme stuff."

The couple, who married five years ago, have no children.

Drozdov is a naturalized citizen who moved 15 years ago with his family from Moscow, Russia. His family lives in Kennebunkport, Maine.

His funeral will be held Monday in Salem, Mass.

Sixth since 2002

Yegor Drazdov's death Tuesday was the sixth BASE jumping fatality in Twin Falls County.

Hansen Bridge:

Feb. 9, 2002: Roger Butler, 29

Perrine Bridge:

June 15, 2002: Brian Stout, 24

Oct. 9, 2003: Jason Corcoran, 30

May 29, 2006: Shannon Carmel Dean, 34

Nov. 3, 2006: Joe Lathrop, 42

April 10, 2007: Yegor Drazdov, 29

Another example said...

Idaho News

Good Samaritans ticketed after pulling body from Snake River

09:23 AM MDT on Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Associated Press

TWIN FALLS - Canoeist Dennis Bohrn and his companions were stunned when they saw a woman jump off the Perrine Bridge, her body landing near them in the Snake River. Many in the group were crying by the time they managed to reach the woman and paddle her body to shore.

So Bohrn was shocked when an officer walked up and instead of thanking or comforting the group last Sunday, wrote out a couple of $85 tickets for failing to have life jackets on board either of the two canoes.

"The body was right there," said the 58-year-old Twin Falls resident. "A girl deputy was trying to console everybody. Then a sergeant walked up. He said, 'I see you don't have any life jackets so I am going to give you a citation.' It seemed a little cold."

Twin Falls County Sheriff Wayne Tousley said he stands by the deputy's decision, although he added, "Could it have been done at another time? He had a discretion."

Bohrn said he and his friends are still traumatized from witnessing the death. He plans to contest the citations in court.

"Maybe you get kind of cold in that job," Bohrn said. "I think there is a time and a place. They should use common sense. Maybe his superiors could tell him, 'Next time, wait until they get to the dock and the girls aren't crying.'"

magicvalley.com said...

Last modified on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 7:45 PM MDT


Bungee jumpers facing SW ID bridge restrictions
TWIN FALLS, Idaho - The Idaho Transportation Department plans to put up signs on a pair of bridges in southwest Idaho as a reminder that blocking walkways on the bridges and tying items to the handrails are banned under state law.

"It should eliminate bungee jumping on the Perrine and Hansen bridges," said Transportation Department spokesman Nathan Jerke. "That's kind of what we're going after."

Jerke said the signs should be up by Friday on the two bridges near Twin Falls and will help police enforce state laws.

Bungee jumpers attach themselves to elastic cords that are tied to high points, then leap off. But Transportation Department officials said private bungee jumping companies are using the bridges to make money, that the activity blocks the walkways across the bridges, and that handrails have been damaged by having the cords anchored to them.

Officials also said the activity is a distraction for drivers.

"We need to do what we can to make sure we keep the distractions along the side of the bridge to a minimum for the sake of drivers and pedestrians," Devin Rigby, a department engineer, told The Times-News. "We want to keep drivers' eyes on the road and walkways open and safe for everyone who wants to cross the bridge."

Officials said BASE jumpers _ who deploy parachutes rather than using bungee cords _ won't be affected as long as their equipment doesn't block the pedestrian walkways.

At more than 5,000 jumps annually, Perrine Bridge is one of the world's most-frequented BASE jump sites. The acronym refers to buildings, antennae, spans and earth.

Bungee jumpers, though, will be banned if authorities enforce the prohibition of connecting material to bridges.

"Is that going to prevent me from doing it? Absolutely not," said Matt Score, 22, adding he bungee jumps about once a week. "It's not just a vehicle bridge. It's not just for motorists. I pay taxes too."

He said that the bungee jumpers do not damage the bridge, and that he's not concerned about the new signs as he and other bungee jumpers have friendly interactions with police officers.