Suicide Rates force City Council debate

Tragic Union Street bridge suicides have become so frequent that the Council is creaking into action.

Another Union Street suicide attempt occurred last night. This is the 101st attempt on the Union Bridge since 2008. In April 2008 the first proposal was made to Aberdeen City Council to build a form of barrier, aiming to reduce the deaths on the bridge.  Proposals were again brought up to the council two months ago, and it seems that finally something will be done about the problem.

Whilst SNP councillors Jim Kiddie and Bill Cormie are in full support of the £120,000 plans to build a barrier or netting over the bridge, there are some doubts. Gordon McIntosh, the council’s director of enterprise, planning and infrastructure has raised some concerns.  He states “There are also concerns that the presence of the netting might be seen by some as a challenge and attract jumpers”.

Whilst the strategies will need extensive planning and debate, we can rest assured that action will be taken on this serious problem by the City Council.

However, the question we can ask ourselves is why it has taken over 100 incidents in five years for the council to sit up and take action about the Union Bridge? Particularly in light of the fact that the area was identified as a “suicide hotspot” by the Choose Life preventative campaign in 2008. We can rejoice that at long last measures will be taken, however if only the proposals were seriously considered in  2008, over 100 incidents may have been deterred.

Worryingly, Scottish rates are significantly higher than in England and Wales, particularly so amongst men.  The 2012 Scottish Suicide Information Database Report showed that the rate amongst Scottish men was 73% higher than south of the border, with the rate amongst women at 48%.

The underlying message here is to recognise the signs of depression, and to offer or ask for help when needed. The university runs a brilliant “Niteline” initiative, available 8pm-8am on 01224 272 829. Alternatively, the Samaratins are available 24 hours a day on 01224 574488.