Is installing a 9-feet-high fence on the Quechee Gorge bridge the only way to prevent more suicides there? Or might leaving handwritten notes for despondent people provide a hopeful alternative?
A viral video about a British teenager who has posted such notes on a bridge that has, like Quechee's, become a tragically popular place for suicides has sparked a Facebook discussion about whether such notes could save lives here.
"This would be better than 175k Temporary fence. These would let people know others do care and are thinking about them," Debra DuBois wrote on the "Town of Hartford Vermont Informational Site" page on Facebook.
"You got that right!" replied Tina Geha, who originally posted the video to the page. "We might not be able to save them all but if we could save any lives it would be worth it."
"Great idea, ladies," wrote Tim Leonard.
Paige Hunter, 18, has been credited with preventing six deaths through her notes on England's Wearmouth Bridge. The notes carry such messages as: "Even though things are difficult, your life matters. You're a shining light in a dark world. Just hold on."
The notes appear to have pulled some people back from the edge. One wrote on social media: "If it was not for Paige, I would have been at the bottom of the river and my family would have been broken. So THANK YOU!!!"
After embracing the idea, the Hartford discussion turned to practical questions such as how to laminate the notes to preserve them in foul weather, and whether town officials would object.
DuBois wrote: "Here is an idea: if the town doesn't want us putting notes all along the bridge. How about they spend a little bit of money and put bulletin boards at the end of each sidewalk on both ends and people could pin the notes up there."
"Who cares what the town thinks?" chimed in Jessica Arruda.
Clearly, many people want to help. What are your ideas? Please comment below.
And if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, Vermont Public Radio suggests, here are some places to go for help:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Veterans Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
- Crisis Text Line: 741-741
- Vermont Suicide Prevention Center: http://vtspc.org/
- In emergency situations, call 911.
Eric Francis photo