MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - It is one of the most breathtaking bridges and it is also one of the deadliest in the country. Fourteen people jumped to their deaths last year from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and there were many more suicide attempts.
“It’s been quite a bit lately, it’s sad but it is a huge problem," said Jean Comon, a fisherman who uses the bridge often. "People just taking their own lives for what we would say absolutely no reason.”
Because of this problem, the Florida Department of Transportation will be installing an eight-foot high protective metal netting at a price tag of three million dollars. It’ll be placed on about a mile and a half stretch at the highest level on both sides of the bridge.
“It’s a stainless steel mesh so it’ll hold up to the environment up there which is very critical with the salt water, this is something that is not climbable,” said Kris Carson, a spokesperson for FDOT.
FDOT says this netting will add to the actions they’ve already taken in suicide prevention including having hotline phones on the bridge going to the crisis center, having Florida Highway Patrol there 24 hours a day and they’ve also added more cameras. For Jean Comon and so many others who use the bridge, they believe this is a great idea.
“Anything that can be done to prevent suicides especially coming from the bridge, anything that can be done will help,” said Comon.
Work on the netting will get underway sometime in June. It’ll take about four months to complete.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days at week at 1-800-273-8255.