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UPDATED: Suicides Spark Renewed Call for Barriers on Gorge Bridge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two recent suicides at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the past month have reawakened a call for installing barriers at the bridge, The Taos News reported.
State Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Taos, told The News that he’s gathering facts for future legislation calling for another study to install barriers underneath the bridge.
“We’re obviously still having a problem with suicides at the bridge and it seems to have increased,” Cisneros said in a telephone interview.
Senate Joint Memorial 18, calling for a $2 million study of four different design alternatives, passed during the Legislature’s 2009 regular session, but it sat on Gov. Bill Richardson’s desk before he left office, Laura Rowland, executive director of the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition, told The News.
“From there, absolutely nothing happened with it. The Department of Transportation didn’t offer any real conclusion or a recommendation,” Rowland told the paper. “We haven’t dropped this. We’re sending an information packet to Governor Martinez about what’s happening in Taos.”
Cisneros told The News that another major reason the study was never funded was Taos County’s financial dependence on tourism.
“It was controversial with tourism in terms of the desire to erect barriers that would impede the aesthetic of the area,” Cisneros told the paper. “Part of this will be to get a new study, new cost analysis and to find a design that will discourage these unfortunate occurrences without impeding the scenery.”
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7:44am 7/26/11 — Teenage Girl Jumps Off Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
By Andy Stiny/For the Journal
9:25am UPDATE: U.S. 64 over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge reopened at about 8:30 a.m. today after the body of a suicide victim was recovered, according to emergency radio reports.
The Taos County Sheriff confirmed that a young woman had apparently jumped from the bridge, 7 miles west of Taos, on Monday night, local radio reported.
This is the second suicide from the bridge in the past two weeks. The span, which is about 600 feet above the river, has been the subject of study for a suicide prevention barrier.

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TAOS — A search by raft and helicopter was launched early this morning after a report Monday night that a teenage girl had jumped off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge here, according to emergency dispatchers.

A man reported he saw a teenage girl sitting on the sidewalk against the bridge railing at about 9:15 p.m. Monday. The witness apparently was assured by the girl that she did not have suicidal thoughts, but then after driving off the bridge the man did not see the girl, reports said.

The Taos County Sheriff’s Office confirmed this morning that there had been a suicide, KVOT radio reported.

U.S. 64 was briefly closed at the bridge as the Taos Volunteer Fire Department brought in trucks with powerful lights to scan the river after the incident. The bridge was closed at about 7:30 a.m. this morning while search efforts continue.

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