Suicide-prevention fencing being considered for Granville Street Bridge

Sep 13 2019, 1:39 pm

The City of Vancouver says it is considering the installation of suicide-prevention physical barriers such as fencing or netting for the Granville Street Bridge.

To reiterate, this component of the forthcoming upgrades planned for the bridge was highlighted in the municipal government’s public consultation that identified a shortlist of six final design configurations for the pedestrian and cycling pathway on the bridge deck.

According to city staff, the fencing could be incorporated in a way that preserves views and complements the overall bridge experience, similar to the recently-installed fencing on the Burrard Street Bridge that complements the structure’s Art Deco features.

Other measures to deter self-harm could also include the installation of crisis phones.

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Fencing installed at the Burrard Street Bridge. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The city says “means prevention” has become standard practice for bridges in recent years, and this also includes the fencing on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and the Golden Ears Bridge.

“Research shows that self-harm attempts from bridges are impulsive. Generally, if someone is prevented from jumping off a bridge, they don’t try other means,” reads city material.

These suicide-prevention elements are anticipated to cost between $8 million and $15 million — on top of the cost of the new bridge pathway and other improvements. The municipal government has budgeted up to $25 million for the pathway, and $34 million for seismic upgrades and structural rehabilitation work.

Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge Connector: Option 1 – West Side. (City of Vancouver)

In 2017, the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC’s (CISPC) analysis of suicides on bridges stated there was an average of at least one known suicide-induced death from the Burrard Street Bridge annually. In one year, the police responded to 17 calls of a suicidal individual at the bridge.

In the period between March and June 2017, at least four individuals who had the intention of jumping used the crisis phones on the bridge and received help.

Ironworkers Memorial Bridge

Fencing on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. (Google Maps)

“Suicide prevention barriers are a permanent measure that will continue to prevent numerous suicides every year for decades. Suicide prevention barriers remain to be the most effective tool at preventing suicide,” wrote CISPC.

There are no plans to install suicide-prevention fencing on the Lions Gate Bridge and Alex Fraser Bridge, as both structures with such barriers could become structurally compromised by the high winds in their areas.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or anyone you know is, there is always someone available to talk to:

  • BC Suicide Helpline: 1-800-784-2433
  • Senior’s Distress Line: 604-872-1234 (Lower Mainland)
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Golden Ears Bridge

Fencing on the Golden Ears Bridge. (Google Maps)

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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