ALBERTA

High Level Bridge Suicide Prevention To Be Examined By City Council

08/21/2013 06:00 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 06:00 EDT
Flickr: ecstaticist

At least 14 people have committed suicide jumping from Edmonton's High Level Bridge over the past year, and now the city is examining ways to enhance safety features on the span.

According to the Edmonton Journal, city council voted Tuesday to study ways to prevent and reduce suicides on the bridge.

“Someone who lost someone was quite concerned about it and they asked me to look into it. And so, out of respect for them and the challenge the family faced, we did the inquiry,” Mayor Stephen Mandel explained to Global News.

“It is incredibly difficult for people who have to deal with the realities of someone who makes a decision to take their own life.”

CBC News reports there are currently barriers in place and signs for suicide support hotlines, but council also discussed installing a telephone line on the bridge that connects to The Support Network's Distress Line.

The talks are a positive step toward assisting those who may consider ending their lives, executive director of The Support Network, Nancy McCalder, told the Journal.

“The most important thing that they’re doing is talking about it,” she said.

“We don’t talk about suicide and suicide prevention enough anywhere.”

Council will also look at adding further barriers and signage, as well as additional lighting on the bridge - a project which is in the works.

"...when they take about lighting up the bridge — having it bright there — I think that will make a big difference," Mandel told the Edmonton Sun.

According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, 513 people died from suicide in Alberta in 2010, with another 5,053 suicide/self-inflicted injury-related visits to emergency rooms.

Edmonton Police Service typically respond to more suicide-related calls from the bridge around Christmas and in the spring, reports Global News, with approximately one or two calls per week in those times.

According to the Journal, city administration will report back with the results of their study in November.

High Level Bridge suicides were also the subject of a local documentary in 2010 by Trevor Anderson.

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