Editorial: If it saves just one life, suicide protection fence a good investment

Midgley Bridge

Midgley Bridge

Social media pundits have weighed in heavily on the multi-agency project to add protective fencing to Sedona’s Midgley Bridge.

The bridge last year became the focal point of mental health advocacy and suicide prevention after four people jumped to their death from it in 2015.

There are those who see this as a waste of both time and money. Some say it will not prevent people from jumping from the bridge. Others say if someone is intent on killing themselves and they can’t do it from the Midgley Bridge, they will do it somewhere else.

We’ve heard similar logic over the years for everything from smoking to seat belts.

But here is the deal on adding this protective fencing. Let’s say it causes at least one person to pause and think before ending their life. Suppose it sends the message that people really do care, enough to at least try and provide some level of protection to keep people from killing themselves. Suppose that pause and moment of reflection is all it takes to persuade someone that their life does have value, and they should choose life.

If it sends the message that people do care, then it is well worth the expense.

Further, locally in the Verde Valley there is ample evidence that we have people who care enough to take it to the next level and don’t believe protective fencing is the end-all answer to the issue of suicide or the myriad mental health issues that plague so many.

For example, the Verde Valley Mental Health Coalition and Spectrum Healthcare Group will provide a full-day session on Mental Health First Aid training Friday, December 9, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Christ Lutheran Church, 25 Chapel Road, Sedona.  This is one of six training sessions that have been offered this year designed to equip 100 community members with the training needed to recognize signs of addiction and mental illness and a 5-step action plan to assess a situation and offer assistance.  Professional instructors from Spectrum Healthcare Group teach the course.

The fence is a measure of protection.

Our community’s action plan is a measure of hope.

Together, they leave little doubt that the Verde Valley is a community that cares.

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