Aspen officers, passersby thwart attempted suicide from bridge

A 17-year-old Aspen High School student who was threatening to jump off the Tiehack bridge Tuesday was talked out of the idea by law enforcement officers and others, police said.

A husband and wife walking across the Terrell/Wade Bridge near the Aspen Recreation Center first saw the girl just before 1:30 p.m., said Aspen police Sgt. Rick Magnuson. The girl had climbed a fence on the side of the bridge and was standing on an I-beam hundreds of feet above Maroon Creek below, he said.

The man began talking to her while his wife called 911, Magnuson said. Brian Stevens, Aspen police school resource officer, a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy and a school official immediately responded and began talking to the girl once they arrived at the bridge, he said.

“Eventually they talked her into coming back over the fence,” Magnuson said. “She was not injured.”

Magnuson didn’t know what prompted the girl to threaten to kill herself. Stevens declined to comment Tuesday.

The executive director of a local crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization said Tuesday she’d heard about the incident after her annual meeting with Aspen High School freshmen.

“I’ve been at Aspen High School all day doing suicide prevention,” said Michelle Muething of the Aspen Hope Center. “It really hits home because I’ve been having these conversations with students all day.”

Unfortunately, suicide attempts are all too common, she said. Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate a 45 percent increase of female suicides between 1999 and 2014, Muething said. In addition, suicides among children ages 10 to 14 tripled during that time, she said.

And while there’s been only one suicide in Pitkin County this year, the holiday season can sometimes exacerbate suicidal feelings, Muething said.

“People become very sentimental this time of year,” she said, and if other life stresses are happening, the holidays can push people over the edge.

Still, Muething said she’s happy that quick thinking Tuesday by the couple who first saw the girl and law enforcement officers averted tragedy in this case.

“It’s wonderful news,” she said. “We’ve already lost someone from this community on that bridge.”

The Aspen Hope Center offers 24-hour suicide prevention at 970-925-5858.