PORTLAND -- Volunteers began patrolling the Vista Bridge early Thursday in an effort to try and prevent suicides before the span will get protective barriers.

So far this year, four people have jumped off the bridge, making it the deadliest year on record. Approximately 170 people have died at Vista Bridge since it was built 87 years ago.

The 19 volunteers were trained on how to spot suicidal behavior and how to talk to people who may be thinking about jumping - before calling 9-1-1.

The volunteers plan to patrol the bridge starting at 2 a.m. every morning until the temporary barriers are completed next month.

Commissioner Steve Novick declared an emergency to ensure construction of a temporary anti-suicide screens on the bridge last week.

It's not a question of grabbing somebody and keeping them from doing something they are intent to do, said Tom Parker of Lines for Life. It's really about reconnecting them with their reasons for living.

It would cost an estimated $2.5 million for a permanent barrier that's architecturally appropriate to the structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More: Friends of Vista Bridge.

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