I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the Natchez Trace Bridge. I love the architecture and engineering behind the structure. I love the sunset vistas looking out west from the top of the bridge. It’s a beautiful monument in a beautiful area. However, there’s a dark side. Locally, this bridge is known as the “Suicide Bridge.” To date, I believe there has been about 38 suicides from this bridge. That’s only true if no one has jumped between the time of this post and the date of February 5th, 2020. That’s the date I witnessed a man jumping off the bridge. It was such a surreal moment, a moment I wished could be unseen. I won’t relive that moment in this post, but you can read about that day in my blog post titled End of the Road. I must warn you that you may find it disturbing. For two weeks after witnessing this tragedy, I relived that moment every night when I shut my eyes to go to bed. It was hard to shake, but things got better. I didn’t think it would be this soon, but I found the courage to return to the bridge.
I have to admit that the moment the bridge came into view in the distance, I got a little anxious. I started to relive that day again. It did not help to see a Sheriff’s vehicle coming from the bridge. As I got closer to the base, I could see the silhouette of people looking over the rails. The first thing that came to mind was, “Is that someone who is about to jump?” I quickly gathered myself and drove to the top. I was delighted to see several people on the bridge. There’s safety in numbers, right? The group of people out on the bridge taking in the view and having a good time helped relieve my anxiety. The bridge was once again a beautiful landmark. I parked my car and captured the following photos.
As you drive or walk across the bridge, there are reminders of the dark side. Suicide prevention signs are posted at each end of the bridge. There is even an emergency phone to call for help. If you look closely at the railing and concrete along the bridge, you will see encouraging messages etched into the steel and concrete. Below are pictures of a note left from the loved ones and friends of a suicide victim.
That last photo instantly brought back the cloud of despair that hangs over this bridge. I took a deep breath and headed back to my car passing more people heading out onto the bridge. When I got down to the bottom, I captured one more shot.
I’ve always known the reality of this bridge, but it never registered in a way that caused me to pause until that terrible day. I’m sure I will be back to the bridge as I have some photography projects I want to try, but those visits won’t be as frequent as they used to be. Thanks for taking the time to read my post! If you want to catch my next venture, subscribe to this blog or Like and Follow me on Facebook at Shuttering Thru Life.