Suicide prevention: While waiting for fences, phone number could save lives

CLEVELAND-- For years, the Lorain Road Bridge between Cleveland and Fairview Park has been a place where people in crisis go to end their lives.

One local family who lost a daughter to suicide on the bridge successfully petitioned the cities and Ohio Department of Transportation to raise the fences on the bridge to 8 feet.

The $800,000 was approved for the project. Plans for the design and paint on the bridge are complete, but months later, construction still hasn’t started.

“I think something should have been done a long time ago, this bridge has been here for a long time,” said Kara Samoriski.

Samoriski is a 22-year-old Fairview Park native who lost her cousin to suicide and had mental health struggles herself.

“I had bad anxiety and I didn’t know what it was. And I was scared, and I was worried, and I was upset and I started to realize that this is how he felt,” Samoriski said, talking of her cousin.

Now, preventing suicide is her mission. Samoriski wants the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to be posted on the Lorain Road Bridge and other bridges throughout Cuyahoga County.

“While we are waiting for the barriers to be put up, we do have to have some kind of resources on the bridges so we can help save lives,” she said.

Samoriski said her plan could be done easily, quickly and fairly inexpensively.

“Kind of a plaque, you know, just in the middle of the bridge, when you first get on the bridge, when you get off the bridge, that has resources like the suicide prevention number,” Samoriski said.

“If somebody could just look down and see that phone number, and decides to just take a minute to reach out to somebody,” Samoriski said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline could be a person’s only opportunity to speak with a licensed crisis counselor. In 2018, the lifeline is expected to receive about 3 million calls nationally, according to Frontline Services in Cleveland, which is the local call center and service provider.

“It’s 24/7. There’s people who are trained and readily available to help anyone in crisis, which is so important when you are thinking about taking your own life,” Samoriski said.

The ultimate goal is for barriers, fences and netting to be installed on all bridges that pose and opportunity for suicide. But Samoriski said in the meantime, the hotline number could do a lot of good.

Samoriski is also an active volunteer with the Ohio Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) from anywhere or in Cuyahoga County, 216-623-6888.