On August 18, 2014, City Council approved the installation of new safety rails on the High Level Bridge. This decision was based on a considerable amount of research and compelling testimony. Virtually all sources pointed to physical barriers as the most effective site-specific intervention to prevent suicide from an elevated site.
Today the City announced the specifics related to the installation of safety rails.
This is a proud moment for Edmonton as it has now been added to a growing list of cities taking effective action to reduce suicide from elevated places; cities such as Melbourne, Toronto and Bristol are showing promising results.
Installation of safety rails will take place from September 2015 to June 2016 on the shared use paths on both sides of the bridge. The addition will complement other measures already installed on the bridge, including signs and help phones.
While this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, these’s still much to do. Reducing overall suicide rates in our city is a much larger challenge and goes beyond the scope of this particular project. However, while the rails are a relatively small piece of this massive puzzle, it’s something the City of Edmonton can lead in a meaningful way.
Suicide is a community issue. Luckily for us, organizations like The Crisis Support Centre work tirelessly to meet the need with an operation almost exclusively run on volunteer power.
The sad reality is that many Edmontonians either know someone personally or through their network who has been impacted by suicide. If you’re moved by this issue and would like to help you should visit The Crisis Support Centre. They are always looking for more people on the other side of their phones. You don’t need a great deal of familiarity or experience, training is provided. All that’s required is empathy and a willingness to listen.
Kris Andreychuk is a social worker with the City of Edmonton and a supervisor with the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team. These teams have played an integral role in community policing and crime prevention in Edmonton for the past 8 years and are the result of a four way partnership with the City, EPS, The Family Centre and the United Way.