Opinion

Signs on bridge could help avert tragedies

YAY: CRISIS CLINIC

The Crisis Clinic of Mason and Thurston counties is working with the state Department of Transportation to install four signs on the Capitol Boulevard Bridge, reminding people contemplating suicide that lifesaving help is just a phone call away.

The four signs are in response to the deaths of two people who jumped from the Interstate 5 overpass in November, 2014, despite an 8-foot, 6-inch fence installed on the bridge in 2011. We mourn the loss of those two young lives, and hope the new signs help people find hope and overcome despair.

YAY: RECYCLE PROGRAM

Washington residents can now recycle fluorescent and other mercury-containing lights for free at one of 130 sites around the state. The comprehensive recycling program will make it easier to protect the environment from toxic mercury releases. The latest example of responsible product stewardship in this state relies on a 25-cent fee on each new mercury light sold at retail stores.

BOO: WORKPLACE DEATHS

Preliminary data from the state Department of Labor and Industries shows there were 64 on-the-job deaths in this state in 2014, the worst for Washington workers since 2010 when 89 workers died.

Five of the job-related fatalities last year were workers caught in the Oso landslide in March, including two electricians and a satellite dish installer.

Nearly all workplace fatalities can be avoided through worker safety programs that employers and employees alike take seriously.

YAY: CLEAN ENERGY

Customers of the Mason County Public Utility District No. 3 in Shelton can feel good turning on their lights: 99 percent of the electricity sold by the PUD is carbon-free.

The vast majority of the utility’s electricity – 88 percent – is hydropower. Another 10 percent is nuclear and one percent is wind, leaving one percent from coal.

Puget Sound Energy still gets 44 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels.

BOO: MAKEUP OF CONGRESS

The 114th Congress that convened this week is the most diverse in the nation’s history, with nearly 20 percent women and about 18 percent people of color. But the makeup of Congress still fails to come close to mirroring the gender, racial and religious diversity of the nation.

A record 104 women will serve in the new Congress, including the youngest woman ever elected to the House, New York Republican Elise Stefanik, 30, and the first African-American female Republican, Mia Love, 38, from Salt Lake City. But these are small victories when more than half of the nation’s population is female.

The Pew Research Center look at another demographic – religion. The most underrepresented group on the Hill are members of Congress without a religious preference, 0.2 percent of Congress, compared to 20 percent of the public.

BOO: SMARTPHONES AT NIGHT

A report published this week in the journal Pediatrics found that children who go to bed with a smartphone in their bedroom get on average almost 21 minutes less sleep nightly than those who don’t have a smartphone nearby.

Bright, blinking phones are not doing children any nighttime favors. Some of the risks associated with shorter, more fitful sleep include reduced academic performance, behavioral problems and weight gain. The findings are preliminary, but should be enough to convince parents to pull the smartphones out of the bedrooms of their children.

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