Jessica Keene was 11 when her mother took her life. Now 27 and a mother herself, Keene wants to give others a chance to reconsider — before it's too late.
Alarmed by a recent spate of suicides at the Quechee Gorge bridge, Keene and friend Jessica Arruda teamed up Tuesday evening to post notes across the length of the bridge railing, hoping their words of encouragement would keep despondent people from ending their lives — and saddling their loved ones with a lifetime of pain.
"I wanted to do this because I lost my mother to suicide and in her note she left us she felt she was doing us a favor and she would be better off," Keene said Wednesday morning. "She showed no signs of being depressed or considering self harm. I just wish something like these notes would’ve been available for her and maybe the outcome could’ve been different. My only hope is that we can save a life!"
The notes, handwritten on index cards and affixed to the railings with zip ties, carry messages such as "Life is tough but so are you," "Your story isn't over yet," and "Suicide does not end the pain. It passes it to everyone that loves you."
That last message is one Keene knows from hard experience.
"It's a whole new wound that opened when I had kids," said Keene, who lives in Lebanon, runs Dominoes pizza franchises with her husband and has three children ranging in age from two to eight. "They'll never get to know her; she'll never get to know them."
Keene said she and her friend were inspired by the story of a teenager credited with saving lives by posting similar notes on a bridge in England. Yesterday, they decided to go to the Gorge — which Arruda drives across every day on her way to work — and take action.
"We met there about 8 o'clock and she had her two little boys and they helped," she said. Between them, they put up 30 notes across the span.
"We just want to leave one last message of hope for whoever is thinking about jumping."