Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. The statistics for various demographics, regardless of method, are all staggering. Deception Pass Bridge, one of Whidbey’s most scenic and gorgeous venues, is no stranger to suicidal individuals. Just last year, there was a report of a suicide featured in this very paper. The numbers in reports vary as to exactly how many people have jumped from the bridge, ranging everywhere from 250 to 400. Frankly, any number is too high, but there are preventable steps we can take to, at the very least, attempt to help those desperate individuals coming to the bridge as a last hope.
Most people know the old adage, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” which is incredibly minimizing and devaluing the issue as a whole. Those who seek to commit suicide are looking for a permanent solution, and dismissing their feelings as something like “a phase” is one of the most apathetic and invalidating approaches someone can take. While offering help does not give someone a permanent solution to all of their problems, it can lead to something that potentially can: hope.
The addition of signs or plaques with the National Suicide Hotline and other resources to locations on the bridge could give people a direct access line to others, anonymously and without judgement, people that only want to offer the help they deserve. I am well aware that mental health resources can be incredibly difficult to find, even afford for some, but a person can also feel too embarrassed to ask for help or feel like they have no one to turn too. There are even numbers people at risk can text if they’re not comfortable speaking with someone out of fear of judgement or persecution.
The signs may seem like a bleak sight for travelers looking for the perfect selfie spot, but we need to forget about ourselves for a moment and not ignore problems plaguing not only the nation, but also our very island. Suicide has personally affected my life and I’m willing to bet that it’s also affected someone you know, perhaps even yourself. This is something we can no longer ignore. The difference between putting forth the effort is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.