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California Briefing / Santa Barbara

Suit filed to block suicide barriers

July 25, 2009|Steve Chawkins

A group has sued the California Department of Transportation to prevent construction of suicide barriers on a scenic bridge in Santa Barbara County.

In a Superior Court filing, Friends of the Bridge contends that the agency violated state environmental laws by not fully considering the visual impact of a 9-foot-tall chain-link barrier on the Cold Spring Bridge.

Since the bridge opened in 1953, 47 people have jumped to their deaths, according to the suit. The span on Highway 154 soars 220 feet over Cold Spring Canyon.

Opponents have argued that barriers merely force people intent on committing suicide to kill themselves elsewhere. But advocates of the idea, including local law enforcement officials, say such measures can thwart suicides and reduce risks faced by emergency personnel trying to prevent suicides.

-- Steve Chawkins

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