A group of Auburn citizens are tying notes with supportive messages written on them to the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn to dissuade possible jumpers from taking their lives.
The 730-foot tall bridge was built in 1973 and is the tallest in California. It has been the site of 87 suicides, according to the Auburn Journal.
Brittney Hendricks started the “Notes of Hope” project after watching video of a woman in Europe put notes on a bridge that was a popular jumping spot in her town.
Hendricks said she solicited help on an Auburn community Facebook group on July 29 and got a positive response. A group met at the tattoo shop she owns with her husband and made 240 signs that they posted later that day.
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“It’s kind of like, why not?” Hendricks said. “Why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t it have been done earlier?”
After they posted the notes, Hendricks said she realized there wasn’t enough to cover the entirety of the 2,428-foot bridge on both sides. She is collecting more notes at her shop to post again this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. She said she hopes to continue putting notes up every Sunday until, “one, we run out of room, or two, we run out of notes.”
Hendricks said her goal is to reach out to people who may feel too down to reach out themselves.
“They’re not gonna ask for help, they’re not gonna pick up the phone and call somebody,” she said. “So at least here, with these notes, they can’t turn away. This is us, hundreds of people, reaching out to them before they get to that point where they jump.”
Being a resident isn’t the only thing that connects Hendricks to the bridge – she says her husband is a combat veteran who suffers from PTSD, depression and anxiety. She said some of her other family members have had thoughts of suicide or have taken their own lives.
“There’s so many worries in my mind, the biggest one being tied to my husband because we live right there,” she said.
A 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said that in 2015, veterans made up 8.3 percent of the population, but accounted for 14.3 percent of adult suicides. The same report said that in 2015, an average of nearly 21 active-duty service members, non-activated guard or reserve members, and other veterans took their lives each day.
The issue goes beyond just her family though, Hendricks said. As a tattoo artist, Hendricks said she does a lot of memorial pieces for family and friends who have lost a loved one because of suicide. She said she hopes to reach people who are struggling outside of her circle as well.
“Sometimes people get lost and they don’t realize that even complete strangers can care so much about whether you live or die, and we really do,” Hendricks said.
For people struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.