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Reversing Falls Bridge in Saint John. Image: Zach Perry

Renewed Calls For Suicide-Prevention Barriers At Reversing Falls

By Tim Herd Oct 5, 2022 | 7:30 AM

Saint John council is renewing calls to have suicide-prevention barriers installed on Reversing Falls Bridge.

Recent figures from the Saint John Police Force showed officers have responded to 108 mental health-related calls at the bridge since 2017.

According to the statistics, 70 people were successfully talked down by first responders, while 19 were physically restrained and prevented from jumping.

Six people jumped or fell during that timeframe. Two of them survived, and four either died or are presumed to have died.

“At least three cases have never been resolved; therefore, families of those affected have never received any closure,” Chief Robert Bruce wrote in a recent report.

Bruce also noted that the police force has a number of outstanding missing person cases, some of which are believed to involve mental health concerns.

“While unknown, any number of these individuals may or may not have jumped from the bridge, however, there is no way of knowing,” he said.

During Monday’s Common Council meeting, Coun. Gary Sullivan noted the city asked the province to install a suicide-prevention barrier in 2017 and again in 2019, but nothing has happened.

“It is sad that this was identified by the Saint John Suicide Prevention Committee in 2017 and the data is still showing that we still need it,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan added that barriers on Reversing Falls Bridge would be significantly important for suicide prevention.

“All the data, all the research, this is a science-based thing. I guess I’m not preaching to the council, I’m preaching to anybody out there who has the ear of someone who makes the decisions,” he said.

“Please, please, please, help the folks of the City of Saint John, they need help with mental health … This is not a gamble, this is something that will reduce people harming themselves.”

Council directed staff to consult with the province on the possibility of installing barriers on the bridge.

They also asked staff to investigate the feasibility of installing surveillance cameras at and around the bridge.

Bruce noted it would help confirm if a person in crisis is on the bridge at the time of a call, whether they have jumped or fallen, and help determine which resources are needed to respond.


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