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Blocking suicide hotspots can reduce the number of deaths at sites by more than 90%

The new research found that interventions can buy time to allow an individual to reconsider their actions.

Image: Shutterstock/AnastasiaNess

Updated at 6.40pm

INSTALLING BARRIERS AND safety nets at suicide hotspots like high bridges and cliffs can reduce the number of deaths at these sites by more than 90%.

That’s according to new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

The research also found that encouraging help-seeking by placing signs and crisis telephones near the hotspots, and increasing the likelihood of intervention by a third party by using CCTV and suicide patrols, also appear to significantly lower the number of deaths at these locations.

Deaths dropped from an average of 5.8 suicides each year (863 suicides over 150 study years) before the interventions were introduced to an average of 2.4 deaths per year afterwards (211 suicides over 88 study years).

Lead author Professor Jane Pirkis from the University of Melbourne in Australia, said,

These key interventions have the potential to complement each other and buy time to allow an individual to reconsider their actions and allow others the opportunity to intervene.

Interventions to encouraging health-seeking reduced the annual number of suicides by over half (51%) when used alongside other interventions, and by 61% when used on their own.

According to Professor Pirkis, “Although suicide methods at high-risk locations are not the most common ways for people to take their own lives and may only have a small impact on overall suicide rates, suicide attempts at these sites are often fatal and attract high profile media attention which can lead to copycat acts. These methods of suicide also have a distressing impact on the mental wellbeing of witnesses and people who live or work near these locations.”

Pirkis added that, “Studies that have looked at substitution suggest that although restricting access at one site may shift some of the problem to other locations, there is still a significant overall reduction in deaths by the same method.”

Helplines:

  • Console  1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: ‘I know too many young farmers who have died by suicide’>

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