Bridges and Suicide

Jumping from a great height shares two elements in common with firearms as a suicide method: it is a highly lethal method and once the attempt is begun (the person jumps or pulls the trigger) it cannot be stopped. Most other methods allow the suicide attempter a window of opportunity to change their mind or be rescued mid-attempt. Some communities have erected barriers at popular suicide jump sites. Barriers have been largely effective in stopping or dramatically reducing suicide deaths from that jump spot. Most studies have also found that erecting a barrier does not result in more jumps from nearby sites. Is there a commensurate increase in deaths by other methods? Evidence is weaker on this point — some studies have found no increase, one found some evidence for males and none for females, others either did not examine this or did not have enough statistical power to examine this (since jumps do not make up a large proportion of suicides in most areas). One study, the Bloor Viaduct study, did find that jumps from other sites increased after a barrier was erected. This is not unexpected if very nearby sites offer equal advantages (great height–which ensures high lethality–and easy access). Media publicity about jump suicides may also have played a role in the increase at other jump sites.

* Research on bridge barriers

* News coverage on bridge barriers

* Links to websites on bridge barriers

* Pictures of various bridge barriers

* A sample letter you could send your town re: constructing a bridge barrier

* Guidance on Action to be Taken at Suicide Hot Spots