BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The Glynn County Commission is calling for life-saving equipment to be installed along the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick in the hopes of rescuing people in crisis.
On Thursday, the board passed a measure seeking help from the Department of Transportation, saying 18 people have taken their own lives by jumping from the bridge since it first opened in 2003.
The Sidney Lanier Bridge runs along U.S. 17. Though it closely resembles Jacksonville’s Dames Point Bridge, it’s nearly three times as tall by comparison.
The legislation comes after police said Nicole Wells, a Brunswick woman, jumped to her death from the bridge Feb. 20. Commissioners noted her death, calling it a reminder of the need for suicide awareness.
“She was a hairdresser, a really good girl, or so I heard,” said Derick Ferrell, who’s lived in Glynn County for seven years now. “I know it’s pretty sad something like that would happen.”
In the wake of Wells’ death, locals staged a memorial walk last weekend. More than 200 people met up and walked to the crest of the bridge, where they stood vigil for those who have died by suicide.
Commissioners said the bridge – Georgia’s longest and one of only two suspension bridges in the state – is “too often used as the way by which individuals experiencing a crisis attempt suicide.”
Because of that, they added, “the implementation of effective suicide prevention measures on the bridge will help save lives by serving as a deterrent to those who may be contemplating suicide.”
Still unclear is what measures would be installed, but options include netting, fencing and phones with crisis hotline numbers listed. It’s likely a study will need to be done to find out what would work best.
In Tampa, the Florida Department of Transportation installed crisis hotline phones along the Skyway Bridge, while the Florida Highway Patrol ramped up coverage of the bridge.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, there is help available. You can dial 1-800-273-8255 at any time to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and speak with a trained professional.