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Calls for new safety measures for Hornsey Lane Bridge

PUBLISHED: 17:10 19 November 2010 | UPDATED: 17:41 19 November 2010

Hornsey Lane Bridge

Hornsey Lane Bridge

Polly Hancock

A SPATE of three suicides has prompted renewed investigations into measures to stop people jumping off a Hornsey Lane bridge.

The deaths all happened within a three-week period from October 19 to November 10 on Hornsey Lane Bridge – known locally as “suicide bridge” due to the number of people who end their lives there.

It had been five years since the last suicide but, with this latest trio of incidents, Haringey Council is now looking at new prevention methods. One possibility they are considering is signs on the bridge with the helpline number for the Samaritans.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are in contact with the Samaritans to discuss the possibility of installing signs at the bridge.

“We are also looking closely at the details of the police reports into these recent incidents and are in discussions with the police to see whether any further improvements are necessary.”

But she admitted the council’s options to make changes were limited by the fact that the bridge was Grade II-listed.

A spokeswoman for the Samaritans said her organisation had approached Haringey because there was proof that such signs can help prevent suicides.

She said: “Research shows that signs displaying the Samaritans’ helpline number can significantly reduce the number of suicides at a specific location.

“By directing someone who is feeling suicidal to a source of emotional support, you are helping them to stop and think – essentially closing the gap between thought and action, between suicidal feelings and the possibility of a suicide attempt.”

The last intervention by Haringey Council was when they paid for an old-fashioned red phone box to be set up on the bridge in 2008.

They did this in the hope that anyone considering jumping might be encouraged to call the Samaritans for help instead.

Before this – between 2004 and 2005 – councillors, residents and council officers collaborated on a major scheme to stop the suicides.

As a result, the railings on the outside of the bridge’s parapet were raised and rotating spikes were fitting at each end.

There were also plans to create a trapeze-style metal safety net, which would stretch 12 feet out from the edge of the bridge.

But despite a full-scale model of this proposal being built, tests suggested that there would be safety issues with the net.

Highgate councillor Bob Hare also revealed that the council ran out of funds for the project, which was predicted to cost between a quarter to half a million pounds.

And while he praised the work put into these anti-suicide initiatives, Cllr Hare said their ultimate failure indicated how difficult it is to put off someone who was “determined” to kill themselves.


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