WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A construction project at the Natchez Trace Bridge aimed at saving lives is complete. The completion comes just in time for National Suicide Prevention Month, which began on September 1.

Since 2000, more than 40 people have ended their lives at the Natchez Trace Bridge by jumping off the structure.

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National Park Service officials told News 2 that a chain link fence with barbed wire on top, which took around three months to construct, will act as a temporary barrier until a permanent solution is in place.

“One loss of life is one too many, so it has been a long process to start work on the temporary barrier, so I’m happy to see that it has now been completed,” said Mandi Toy, Acting Chief of Interpretation at the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Over the years, the National Park Service has tried to prevent suicides at the bridge through other methods, including signage with the suicide hotline on them in 2010, and call boxes for people in crisis in 2019.

In 2019, Tennessee lawmakers declared the bridge a public health hazard due to the number of suicides, and the push to put a barrier in place kicked into high gear.

The temporary barrier’s chain link mesh is just one inch wide to prevent climbing, and barbed wire was added to hinder those attempting to commit suicide, according to the Natchez Trace Bridge Barrier Coalition.

Critics of the barrier have argued it will block the beautiful view, however, Toy said the benefits of the fence outweigh the cons.

“There’s been a lot of thought and careful analysis that’s gone into making the decision to put up a barrier on the bridge, and there are still many, many beautiful places along the Natchez Trace Parkway to get those big, scenic views that are perhaps obstructed by the chain link fencing.”

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It’s possible the permanent barrier design will open up the view from the bridge.

The National Park Service asked the public for input on the design over the summer, and they hope to have the permanent barrier up sometime in 2024.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 or dial 988.