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Bridge advocacy continues with Kayla’s HOPE Day of Action

SAVE has teamed up with family and friends of a young woman lost to suicide to advocate for the installation of suicide prevention barriers on a bridge located on the University of Minnesota campus.

This article contains sensitive content related to suicide, including mentions of a suicide location. Some may find this content distressing. Call or text 988 if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Kayla Gaebel was a 29-year-old mother of two who in November died by suicide on Minneapolis’ Washington Ave bridge. For several months, the SAVE team has been working with Kayla’s mother, MJ Weiss, and other loved ones, the University of Minnesota, and state legislators to secure vital funding for suicide prevention barriers on the bridge, not unlike the Smith Ave Bridge in neighboring St. Paul. Studies have shown that suicide deaths at a site decrease significantly following the installation of barriers. Currently, the University of Minnesota is seeking $15 million for bridge improvements and renovations. As decision-makers budget for these upgrades, SAVE is demanding a specified funding commitment from the UMN to ensure more lives are not needlessly lost.

Project supporters have planned a day of visibility and engagement with legislators on Thursday, April 25, 9:30 am-5 pm, at the Minnesota State Capitol with a happy hour and fundraiser gathering at St. Paul Pool and Yacht Club to follow, 6-8 pm. A press conference with remarks from MJ Weiss, SAVE Executive Director Erich Mische and others will be held in State Capitol Room B971 from 3 to 3:30 pm. Find the full itinerary here. RSVP here or email to get involved.

Minnesota residents can take action by telling their legislators and the U of M Board of Regents that they support life-saving funding for suicide prevention barriers on the Washington Ave bridge and beyond. Find out who your legislators are and contact them here. To contact the U of M Board directly, you can submit a public comment, email or call 612-624-6608.

Beyond this project, SAVE is advocating for the passage of federal legislation to support funding for suicide prevention barriers. The Barriers to Suicide Act would create a fund within the federal Department of Transportation in which competitive grants would be awarded to build suicide prevention barriers on public bridges and structures.

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