PORTLAND, Ore. -- On the top deck of the Fremont Bridge, workers are installing 1,100 feet of chain link fence.
It’s a $250,000 job funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The goal is to slow people trying to take their own lives.
Down below, Bonnie Kahn remembers people who told her this would never happen.
“Yes! 'Why --- why are you doing this? You're taking on something.' And I just felt it’s okay -- take on things! You need to stand up,” she said.
She's stood up before.
The anti-suicide fencing on the Vista Bridge? It was built because Bonnie refused to take no for an answer. She had an office below the bridge and felt called to do something about the bodies that would land outside her door.
“It was knowing the people and knowing the families, knowing families that had been impacted by the Vista Bridge and the Fremont Bridge," she said.
She kept pushing the state, did research for them showing seven people had jumped to their deaths over 10 years and another seven bodies were found in the water below also suspected suicide jumpers.
And that was enough. ODOT found the money for the project.
“Anything we can do to help people pause and reconsider their actions is a good thing,” said spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie.
David Westbrook, with Lines for Life, an anti-suicide group that runs a hotline said the fencing will slow down suicidal people.
“Basically it slows people down. And suicide, while it’s often been contemplated, that moment of stepping up to whatever that method is, is a fairly impetuous decision,” Westbrook said.
Bonnie Kahn says she’s thrilled the new fence is going up on the Fremont Bridge. She’s not a typical activist, but said when the problem presented itself she could not look away.
“I think we’re called where we’re supposed to be in life. And sometimes we don’t have a choice. And you just have to do it,” she said.
Experts say for some reason, they’re not clear, the suicide rate ticks up slightly in Oregon in the Spring.
If you or someone you know are thinking about suicide there is free help available 24/7. Call 800-273-8255.