The power to prevent suicide

Officials have not yet been able to find the body of a 17-year-old girl, who jumped from St. Paul’s High Bridge into the Mississippi River after texting “goodbye” to a friend on Thursday. (Update 1:21 p.m.: A body has been recovered, the Pioneer Press reports)

Seventeen years old.

Yesterday, some of the Highland Park High School friends did what too many friends do around here too often. They gathered at the spot of her suicide, tying ribbons to the bridge railing, leaving notes and cards, expressing hope that other people won’t jump too, the Pioneer Press reports.

It’s about all they can do. That and think of ways to remind people there are reasons not to jump, a difficult task since we often don’t know exactly what draws a person to a bridge railing.

Dana Bogema, of St. Paul, started an online petition that asks for the state to permanently add a suicide hotline number on the bridge along with inspirational quotes of hope, KSTP says.

“I know it sounds corny, but sometimes people have to be reminded of the things there are to live for,” Bogema said.

On Saturday, people gathered in Wyoming, Minn., to do what they could to save some lives — they walked.

Angie King

John Moe, to the left of the Storm Trooper, was the featured speaker. Moe’s brother, Rick, took his own life in 2007.

The participants walked and raised money for Stomp Out Suicide, which hopes to use the money to a suicide prevention effort in area schools. It would provide school counselors, social workers, and staff with the means to identify and help struggling students.

The organizers of similar walks around the country this week had a difficult task — make a fun event out of a suicide prevention effort.

You do what you can.

Heather Bone, for example, is riding a bike across country. The 21-year old Utah resident is making a video along the way, talking to people about what they love most about their lives.

“One 11-year-old boy said he lives for food and money,” she said. “One person told me they lived for another day. I’ve heard stories of people who’ve lost people to suicide. I’ve had conversations with people. You don’t realize how much it affects other people. You just hear the saddest stories.”

Heather said she plans to write a short inspirational message to go with her video when it is completed and she plans to share it online. “Hopefully people will be inspired to share it with others,” she said. “I just hope it doesn’t end with the video. It could be a kick start to inspire other people to make videos and share them with friends.”

She said she hopes people who might be considering suicide would search and find a reason to go on, a reason not to end their lives.

Young people especially have so much potential, Heather said, and she hopes that like with the motivation to keep her wheels turning on this journey she can inspire them to keep going, to keep moving forward.

“There is no magic here,” Kevin Briggs, who’s rescued people from the Golden Gate Bridge, writes in his recent book, “just empathy and the ability to lend an ear and show compassion for your fellow man. And with that comes the power to prevent suicide.”