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article imageCalifornia bridge's reputation for attracting suicides

By Sandy Sand     May 3, 2010 in Lifestyle
The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California, has earned the unwelcome reputation of “suicide bridge,” and urban legend has it that the bridge is haunted.
Since its completion in 1913, more than 150 people have committed suicide by leaping from it.
Maybe it’s the year it was built, 1913, or the fact that 14 years later the country was thrown into the Great Depression, taking many with it.
"The bridge has a reputation," said Pasadena police Lt. Tom Delgado. "It's known nationwide."
While the vast majority of jumpers were in the Depression Era, officials estimate that 79 people jumped from the bridge in the early 1930s, and people who are bent on suicide are still attracted to the site.
According to Hometown Pasadena’s “Insider’s Guide,” silent star Charlie Chaplin was responsible for bringing the Colorado Street Bridge to national attention in his movie “The Tramp.” In the film, Chaplin’s Tramp character saves a young lady from jumping from the bridge.
The most recent incidents occurred within the last week, just four days apart, police said. A 25-year-old Covina man jumped on April 17, and a 49-year-old Altadena woman dove to her death on April 21.
Legend has it that the first death that occurred at the bridge was not a suicide, but was the result of an accident when a construction worker fell into wet concrete and his co-workers weren’t able to reclaim his body from the thick mass. It’s believed by many that the spirit of the worker continues to haunt the bridge.
The nearly 100-year-old bridge with its distinctive Beaux Arts arches, light standards, and railings was the terminus for the old Route 66, spans the Arroyo Seco and has magnificent views of the surrounding area.
According to the Pasadena Star News:
Delgado, who heads the department's Homeless Outreach and Psychiatric Evaluation Team, said despite a spike-tipped, galvanized steel 8-foot-high barrier added to the bridge in 1993, its reputation may serve to attract suicidal individuals.
In spite of suicide barriers having been added to the Colorado Street Bridge, police respond to several call each month to reported impending suicides, authorities said.
Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison, whose district includes the bridge, said Pasadena’s police and fire officials:
…are well-trained to respond to attempted suicide calls.
He noted that the bridge has a strong protective fence:
"If there is something efficacious we can do, we want to do it. We are already employing some of the best practices in terms of intervention and prevention."
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