Portlanders push for barrier at 'suicide bridge'


by Pat Dooris / KGW


Posted on June 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM

PORTLAND -- City leaders are open to the idea of putting barriers on the Vista Bridge in Southwest Portland to prevent suicides.

A Beaverton 15-year-old is the latest person to die after jumping from the bridge Wednesday.

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese wants barriers on the bridge.

“I think it’s past time. It’s really tragic to see young people or anyone lose their life,” said Reese.

Many others, including Kenneth Kahn, agree.

“It’s inexcusable that a 15-year-old child lost her life because of this bridge,” he said.

Kahn is an attorney with an office at the base of the bridge. He's seen and heard the awful reality of suicide there.

“I have seen too many, frankly,” he said.

Now he is urging people who use the bridge to talk to anyone they see there as a temporary way to prevent suicides.

“Anything that puts in a pause, to let people have a moment to think about what they're doing and to form a connection is going to be enough to make a change in somebody's life,” Kahn said.

He's also trying to find the $2.5 million it would take to build barriers that would make it harder to jump off the bridge. City commissioner Steve Novick is too.

“I mean suicide can be very spur-of-the-moment, impulsive, and if somebody doesn’t have an opportunity as it were to do it at that moment, then they might never do it again,” Novick said.

But Novick also said there simply is no money for the barriers in the city's budget.

“So it really does matter. It does break my heart to think, I mean if we had two-and-a-half million dollars we could put up that barrier and we could stop it,” said Novick.

An Oregon group is pushing city officials to put barriers on the bridge. The group, called

Friends of The Vista Bridge,

includes some who live and work near the span.