10 phones planned for Gorge Bridge

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The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos . (Mike Stewart/The Associated Press)

TAOS – Gov. Susana Martinez wants the state Department of Transportation to do more to prevent suicides at the iconic Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

The department announced Wednesday that officials are preparing a plan to install 10 phones at the bridge near Taos.

The phones would be answered by crisis counselors with the New Mexico Crisis Access Hotline.

“My hope is that connecting those individuals with prevention experts will help them decide that suicide is not the solution to whatever problems they are facing,” Martinez said.

The design for telephones should be done by the end of August and submitted for bids before being installed in October, officials said.

The move follows efforts in other states that have taken similar measures.

A bridge across the Hudson River in New York, for example, has had phones connected to a suicide hotline for two decades.

Officials say more than 50 people have used the phones and been persuaded to reconsider their intentions.

In California, the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group that has called for more suicide barriers on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, said a record 46 people jumped to their death from the bridge last year. It’s believed to be the highest number of suicides from a bridge in the nation.

Taos County officials estimated that six people a year commit suicide by jumping off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is about 10 miles northwest of Taos along U.S. 64.

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