Costa Rica’s Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) is installing barriers on the Virilla River bridge near Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibás in order to reduce the number of people who attempt suicide from the Route 32 overpass.
A National Roadway Council (CONAVI) press release says the new mesh structures are made of galvanized steel and are 2.85 meters (about 9.4 feet) tall. They include an angled panel at the top to prevent people from climbing the fencing.
Installation began earlier this month and will finish before October, according to MOPT. Transit police will be present on the bridge to regulate traffic during the construction process.
“We are investing ¢40 million (approximately $70,000), aware of the need of addressing this social problem,” said Mario Rodríguez, Executive Director of CONAVI.
The national suicide rate in Costa Rica rose to 7.2 per 100,000 people in 2018, according to government data, though a report from Semanario Universidad suggests the figure is significantly underreported.
“The Saprissa Bridge, on the Virilla River (Tibás), is the portrait of an unattended epidemic and a common memory in the minds of all Costa Ricans,” the article reads. “It symbolizes the pain and stigma of suicides that occur around the entire country.”
The mayor of Tibás, Carlos Cascante, says he is “hopeful that the suicide figures will decrease considerably.”
If you or a loved one needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) at 1-800-273-8255. In Costa Rica, the Association for the Prevention of Suicide and Risk Behavior can be reached at 4081-9326 or 2250-1508.