A suicide bridge is a bridge used frequently to die by suicide, most typically by jumping off and into the water or ground below. A fall from the height of a tall bridge into water may be fatal, although people have survived jumps from high bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Medical examiners at the Golden Gate Bridge state that jumpers suffer a gruesome death as their body hits the water at 80 mph, with severe organ damage (multiple ruptured organs) and broken necks, pelvises, etc.
To reach such locations, those with the intention to die by suicide must often walk long distances to reach the point where they finally decide to jump. For example, some jumpers have travelled over the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge by car to reach the Golden Gate Bridge.
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. Families affected and groups that help the mentally ill have lobbied governments to erect similar barriers. One such barrier is the Luminous Veil on the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto, Ontario, once considered North America's second deadliest bridge, with over 400 jumps on record.
Special telephones with connections to crisis hotlines are sometimes installed on bridges.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has the second highest number of suicides in the world, after the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, the number currently being over 1,200. In 2004 documentary filmmaker Eric Steel set off controversy by revealing that he had tricked the bridge committee into allowing him to film the Golden Gate for months, and had captured 23 suicides on film for his documentary The Bridge. In March 2005, San Francisco supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed funding a study on erecting a suicide barrier on the bridge. In June 2014 a suicide barrier was approved for the Golden Gate bridge.
In Seattle, Washington, more than 230 people have died by suicide from the George Washington Memorial Bridge, making it the second deadliest suicide bridge in the United States. In a span of a decade ending in January 2007, nearly 50 people jumped to their deaths, nine in 2006. At a cost of $5,000,000, a suicide barrier was completed on February 16, 2011.
The Cold Spring Canyon Bridge along State Route 154 in Santa Barbara County has seen 55 jumps by suicide since opening in 1964, including 7 in 2009. A proposal to install a barrier on this bridge began in 2005 with completion of the safety barrier/fence in March, 2012.
In recent years, the Eads Bridge in St. Louis has seen several suicides, approximately 18 since its re-opening.
About 300 people have jumped to their death from the Nusle Bridge, in Prague, Czech Republic. Barriers almost 3 metres high were erected here in 1997 with aim to prevent further jumps. In 2007, the fencing was topped off with a 3-foot-wide strip (0.91 m) of polished metal to make it impossible to climb.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and was opened in 1864. Since then, it has gained a reputation as a suicide bridge, with over 500 deaths from jumping. It has plaques that advertise the telephone number of The Samaritans. In 1998, the bridge was fitted with suicide barriers, which halved the suicide rate in the years following. CCTV is also installed on the bridge.
A notable suicide bridge in London is the Hornsey Lane Bridge, which passes over Archway Road and connects the Highgate and Crouch End areas. The bridge provides views of notable landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral, The Gherkin and The Shard. It was the venue for the mental illness campaign group Mad Pride's inaugural vigil in 2000, and was the subject of Johnny Burke's 2006 film The Bridge. When, at the end of 2010, three men in three weeks committed suicide by jumping from the bridge, a campaign was set up by local residents for better anti-suicide measures to be put in place.
At the Humber Bridge in Hull More than 200 incidents of people jumping or falling from the bridge have taken place since opening in 1981. Between 1990 and February 2001 the Humber Rescue Team was called 64 times to deal with people falling or jumping off the bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Mooney Mooney Bridge on the Central Coast (New South Wales), and the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne, Australia, are considered suicide bridges. Sydney Harbour Bridge has a suicide prevention barrier. In February 2009 the first stage of a temporary suicide barrier was erected on Westgate Bridge, constructed of concrete crash barriers topped with a welded mesh fence. The permanent barrier has now been completed throughout the span of the bridge. The barriers are costed at $20 million and have been reported to have reduced suicide rates on the Westgate by 85%.
The Prince Edward Viaduct, commonly referred to as the Bloor Viaduct, in Toronto, Ontario, is considered a suicide bridge. With nearly 500 suicides by 2003, the Viaduct ranked as the second most fatal standing structure in North America, after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
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