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Foresthill Bridge notes removed, go up again

Span near Auburn the site of 87 fatal plunges
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Journal Facebook screen grab

This Facebook video screengrab shows a man removing Notes of Hope on Thursday. It was filmed by a passing motorist.

Suicide prevention advocates were at the Foresthill Bridge near Auburn in the darkness Thursday evening replacing heartfelt notes of hope that were removed earlier in the day.

A video shot by a passing motorist and posted Thursday afternoon on Facebook shows the driver stopping in the middle of the bridge to ask what a man removing the messages — intended to convince people not to jump off the the 730-foot-high span — was doing.

The man responded: “Because they’re trash,” adding that “Foresthill doesn’t need to be known for people who want to commit suicide.”

The driver asked where he was putting the notes and the man responded that they were being placed in a trash bag.

Placer County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the bridge but no arrest was made.

Volunteers were soon back at the bridge to tie more laminated notes to the railings with zip ties. They’re intended by the people placing them to give hope and derail suicidal visitors from a fatal leap.

Since September 1973, when the bridge was opened to the public, 87 people have plummeted to their deaths. Overlooking the north fork American River, it’s the highest bridge in California and fourth highest in the U.S.

The last suicide off the bridge was in April.

Note writers since July have posted messages like “No matter what, there is always a reason to smile” and “You are loved.”

Over the years, the bridge railings have been raised and help-line phones installed. The messages were inspired by the story of 18-year-old Paige Hunter — a college student in England who placed 40 notes on Sunderland’s Wearmouth Bridge and was credited by that city’s police with saving six lives.