Story published at magicvalley.com on Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Last modified on Monday, November 13, 2006 11:55 PM MST
Perrine BASE jumping invites more suicides
By JIM BANHOLZER
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.