There’s been a suicide at the Quechee Gorge Bridge every year for the past decade and four incidents in 2018 alone.
In 2011, the issue became personal for David Cooper when his 21-year-old son, Derek, took his own life at the bridge.
“Every year, my wife and I would have that trigger event,” Cooper said. “We’ve heard of another suicide at the bridge.”
Cooper and his wife spent years advocating for safety measures at the bridge. They contacted local authorities and state officials, and traveled to the statehouse to testify in legislative committees.
In October, their efforts paid off when a 9-foot tall curved fence was installed around the bridge.
Since then, it’s already prevented at least one man from taking his own life. He was attempting to climb over the fence when an off-duty police officer passed by and ntervened.
“The whole point is to get people to think about what they’re about to do,” Cooper said. “If it’s too easy, they can decide in 3 seconds. Here, they’re gonna think about it a few minutes…maybe that few minutes makes a difference.”
The current fencing is temporary. The bridge is scheduled to undergo renovations in 2020, and a permanent safety barrier will also be implemented.