Edmonton

Suicide attempts on High Level Bridge down since barriers installed, city says

The number of suicide attempts from the High Level Bridge dropped by half one year after safety barriers were installed, the city says.

'We believe the barriers are acting as a deterrent to suicide,' city official says

The city says suicide attempts on the High Level Bridge are down by 50 per cent since suicide prevention barriers were installed. (CBC/Rick Bremness )

Suicide attempts from the High Level Bridge are down 50 per cent since safety barriers were installed, the city says.

EMS responded to five suicide attempts in 2016, compared to 10 in 2015, while police responded to 21 mental health calls on the bridge in 2016, down from 41 in 2015, city statistics show.

Construction on the safety barriers began in September 2015 and was completed in July 2016.

"It's still too early to conclusively know what effect the barriers are having, but after following similar projects and research in other cities, we believe the barriers are acting as a deterrent to suicide," Kris Andreychuk, supervisor of community safety with the City of Edmonton, said in a news release Tuesday.

"That's great news for the city," said Coun. Bev Esslinger. "It really shows that it's a worthwhile project for us to have invested our dollars in.

"It gives people a pause, and we know if there's a pause that we'll be able to save lives."

Mayor Don Iveson said he was pleased to see the barriers are making a difference.

"I was always confident that this was going to save lives, and I think the statistics bear that out," he said.

"The safety barriers are a key strategy to prevent suicides in Edmonton by allowing people to rethink their intent when they arrive at this landmark," said Ione Challborn, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association Edmonton.

The city installed the safety barriers on the bridge as part of its suicide prevention strategy. 

Emergency phones were also placed on the bridge for individuals in crisis and for bystanders to use if they see someone in distress.

In 2014, Edmonton recorded 124 suicide deaths.

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