Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa’s Statement on Port Authority’s Announcement to Install Temporary Safety Fence on George Washington Bridge’s South Sidewalk

September 19, 2017

New York, New York – The Port Authority’s decision to begin immediate installation of safety fencing on the George Washington Bridge is, according to New York State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, “a wise, humane, and much needed response to the Bridge’s more than 100 deaths by suicide in the past eight years and deaths well up in the hundreds in the Bridge’s lifetime.”

“My congratulations to Chair Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton for moving the timeline forward by seven years for doing this life-saving work.”

De La Rosa said that the effort to install suicide safety fencing has been “a priority in the initial months of my first term in the Assembly. The issue was first brought to me by Community Board 12 and by advocates in the Upper Manhattan community.”

As a Member of the Assembly’s Mental Health and Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committees, “I pledge to continue to prioritize suicide prevention initiatives.”

The importance to suicide prevention of buildable interventions like safety fencing at “suicide hotspots” is acknowledged in critical reports from both New York and New Jersey governments, as well as in academic studies--New York’s noting that safety planning must address that “golden moment” to preserve life and reduce access to lethal means of suicide. A 2015 study found that the installation of barriers at high-risk suicide locations can reduce the number of deaths by 90%. The barrier provides the intervention that likely keeps suicide from becoming the solution to problems that could be solved otherwise.

“We must work together to find those other solutions.” Suicide prevention work, according to the Assemblywoman, must be enhanced and undertaken in our communities, our families, our schools, and in the justice system. She notes particularly the epidemic of youth suicide, with especially high rates among young Latina females and African-American males.

De La Rosa’s bill A07225B to establish the adolescent suicide prevention advisory council to provide leadership to New York State in addressing teen suicides, was passed earlier this year by the Assembly and Senate, and has been sent to the Governor for consideration.