Suicide prevention barriers to be installed on the Tamar Bridge
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There have been many suicide attempts from the Tamar Bridge which appear recently to be increasing in frequency. Not only is this a tragic loss of life which could be prevented but local residents and emergency services are left severely traumatised by what they have witnessed. Although the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Joint Committee have been contacted on numerous occasions previously following a suicide they have failed to take and necessary action needed to prevent these deaths.
Suicide prevention advocates believe that suicide by bridge is more likely to be impulsive than other means, and that barriers can have a significant effect on reducing the incidence of suicides by bridge. One study showed that installing barriers on the Duke Ellington Bridge in Washington, D.C.—which has a high incidence of suicide—did not cause an increase of suicides at the nearby Taft Bridge. A similar result was seen when barriers were erected on the popular suicide bridge: the Clifton Suspension Bridge, in the United Kingdom.
Bridges provide obvious jumping sites, and the construction of safety barriers has been shown successfully to reduce suicides on particular bridges (see Beautrais 2001, Reisch and Michel 2005, Skegg and Herbison 2009). It appears that these averted suicides are not simply displaced to other, unsecured jumping sites, but whether suicide occurs by another method is difficult to analyse.
The Clifton Bridge in Bristol is one such suicide ‘hot spot’. Following the installation of a safety barrier in 1998 the number of suicides reduced from an average of 8.2 per annum in the five years before the barrier, to 4 per annum in the five years after it was installed.
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