MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — The government is looking for your input about how to make the Ravenel Bridge safer and prevent suicides. They held a meeting in North Charleston Wednesday afternoon about options on what needs to happen.
SCDOT Secretary of Transportation, Christy Hall, says, “Our commitment is to fund whichever option we decide to push forward from an engineering standpoint.”
25 people have committed suicide by jumping off the Ravenel Bridge since it was build in 2005. News 2 spoke to one mother who lost her 20-year-old when he jumped off the bridge.
Butler Mappus says, “It’s been a very difficult struggle for us. This gives us a purpose and hoping to prevent it from happening again.”
Her son, Jules Mappus, died in February 2015, jumping off the south-bound side of the bride, the side opposite the pedestrian path on the Ravenel Bridge.
She says, “The bridge needs to be safer, better barriers need to be placed there, that’s why we’re here. We just feel like the bridge needs to be safer than it is today.”
The south-bound side of the bridge has much lower barriers. The north-bound side, by the pedestrian path, has 78 inch barriers. The barrier on the south-bound side is 32 inches.
Mappus says, “Had the barrier been higher, it would have given him time to pause and think. Had it been a little more difficult to cross, he may have had time to reconsider. It’s just way too easy to cross over right now.”
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office says of the people who have committed suicide on the bridge, none of them had a history of attempting suicide before.
Mappus says, “We feel that it was an impulsive act that caused this to happen. We did not see anything leading up to this, it was very impulsive.”
Of the 25 people who have jumped off the bridge since 2005, three of them used the south-bound side. The SCDOT is looking at multiple options. One of them is raising the barriers, which was popular during the meeting. They also talked about a net under the bridge, like the one planned to be installed under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. And they discussed installing phones, connecting people who are considering suicide directly to a suicide prevention hotline.
Mappus says, “We’re very grateful that we are to that point that people are paying attention to the fact that the bridge needs to be safer to those trying to harm themselves.”
Today was a chance for community leaders to give their input. Before moving forward, any suggestions, like a taller barrier, will need to be studied by the SCDOT to make sure it doesn’t impact the structural integrity of the bridge.