St. Mary's Commissioners Call for Anti-Suicide Measures on Solomons Bridge

The Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge as seen from Solomons, Calvert County. File Photo.
The Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge as seen from Solomons, Calvert County. File Photo.

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Feb. 10, 2022)—After a second suicide in as many weeks by a jumper from the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge, local elected leaders are calling upon the state to come up with immediate options to stem the tide of deaths.

"These tragedies are occurring at a more frequent level and what we can do will remain to be seen," said Commissioner Todd Morgan.

Morgan and other commissioners said they would include for discussion the suicide prevention measures at a virtual session with the commissioner boards from both Calvert and Charles counties Feb. 9 to discuss common issues.

"It's a state bridge so we'll have to look for some state support along the way," Morgan continued.

Commissioner John O'Connor said commissioners receive notifications of critical incidents when they occur, such as the bridge jumper on Feb. 5.

"I had already been looking into what ways we could intervene," O'Connor said. "When somebody has reached that point… getting public safety there in time is difficult."

O'Connor said he "didn't want to talk about it anymore" in discussions with the Maryland Department of Transportation about possible immediate remedies to the problem.

"There are safety devices throughout the United States—in New York, San Francisco—they have special nets… they tangle you up.

"It's something to give first responders time, something to give someone pause."

O'Connor said he hoped talking openly about the local suicide problem would spur broader conversation about putting similar measures in at the new Middleton/Nice bridge that spans the Potomac River leading into Virginia.

"If you prevent something one place, then you displace it somewhere else," O'Connor said. "We have to look at the bigger picture." Commissioner Eric Colvin said the very public nature of the recent suicides necessitated a public discussion.

"It's good that we're talking about this because it's not easy for anyone," Colvin said. "For anyone out there, if you're experiencing feelings of hopelessness or depression talk to someone who can help."

Colvin said the number for the National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

"Call them if you need to, there is no shame in making that call," Colvin said. "It's a good thing."

The State Highway Administration, a subset of the transportation department has reported it is currently exploring anti-suicide options for the bridge.

A public petition has gained force in recent weeks calling for netting to be installed on the bridge to stop jumpers from committing the act of suicide.

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