Local Resident Proposes "Suicide Platform" To Reduce Bridge Closings

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Wednesday, July 5, 2000

from the jump-or-get-off-the-bridge-already dept.

CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Last Monday, the Mississippi River bridge was closed for two hours so police could talk down a man who threatened to jump into the river. This incident has prompted one Cape resident, Gary Meeks, to propose a solution that would prevent the bridge from being closed in the event of another suicide attempt.

He explained, "When the new bridge is finally completed, the state wants to tear down the old one. I propose that the elevated section nearest to the Cape side should be kept as a scenic river overlook and a, um, specially designed suicide platform. Would-be jumpers could threaten to plunge into the river without blocking bridge traffic."

Mr. Meeks, an exterminator who lives in Cape but often fumigates homes in East Cape, Ware, and McClure, depends heavily on the bridge. "I can't afford to pay for the extra gas to go to Cairo or Chester everytime some loser wants to get the attention of the whole town by threatening to jump. The bridge is closed enough as it is for emergency repairs or when an accident occurs. You know I'll be the first in line when the ribbon is cut on the new bridge."

While he has drafted a plan for the suicide platform, he hasn't yet had the chance to present it before the City Council. "The bridge closing prevented last-minute Illinois shoppers from buying legal fireworks in Missouri, which probably cut into city sales tax revenue. Let's just hope I can convince the Councilmen of the urgency of my plan."

According to the plan, the stretch of old bridge from Morgan Oak Street to the first pier would be preserved and converted into a walkway. "That roadbed is steep," Mr. Meeks admitted, "so we may have to install ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. I don't want the city to get sued by a wheelchair-bound person who is unable to attempt suicide."

Mr. Meeks hasn't yet figured the cost of retrofitting and maintaining the old bridge section, but he thinks the plan will pay for itself. "The police won't have to employ officers to close the bridge and provide emergency assistance to everyone suffering from heat exposure in their stalled cars," he boasted. "Meanwhile, the river overlook/suicide platform will be the first of its kind in the nation and will surely be a tourist draw. This is definitely something Cape needs to think about."