Suicide safety measures planned in bid to stop deaths at Archway Bridge

Campaigners Sue Hessel (left) and Sarah Cope look at floral tributes to Jonathan Culverwell-Landsber

Campaigners Sue Hessel (left) and Sarah Cope look at floral tributes to Jonathan Culverwell-Landsberg, who died in a fall from Archway Bridge earlier this month. Picture: Tony Gay - Credit: Archant

Archway Bridge could soon have “anti-suicide” measures fitted after Haringey Council revealed it was set to back new plans - but safety campaigners say they will believe it when they see it.

The council has been working with Transport for London on the new designs to be presented to English Heritage next month - the body which will give the final go-ahead to any addition to the Grade II-listed bridge’s structure.

The council revealed its plans in the wake of the death of 33-year-old Jonathan Culverwell-Landsberg, from Highgate, who fell from the bridge on June 7.

The exact details of any safety measures have yet to be confirmed, but the most likely option is a new barrier about 1m to 1.5m higher than the existing rails, with the top angled inwards to prevent anyone climbing over, similar to those on Clifton Suspension Bridge.

It would be made with innovative pre-stressed and very thin high tensile steel wires which would be almost invisible from a distance, preserving the view of the historic landmark.

It is hoped this will cut the number of suicide attempts at the bridge by restricting access, giving distressed individuals time to reconsider and improving the chances for intervention.

Clifton Suspension Bridge has seen the number of deaths half since installing its version of the barriers, which are recommended as a good deterrents by bridge fall survivors.

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A net beneath the bridge - which was a favoured option by campaigners for a number of years - has been ruled out by the council because of the risk of attracting “regular high-jinks”.

The council also says retrieval of anyone who has fallen from the bridge would be very complicated and risky, and that the option would still be available to jump from the net into the road below.

But campaigners remain sceptical, with Sarah Cope pointing out plans for safety measures in 2005 were shelved.

“If they had done it then all these people may not have died,” she said. “I would like to see a timetable of the planned new bridge.

“We welcome that they are willing to do something about it but it is a long way to it actually happening. It is positive but we want to keep the pressure up.”

Fellow campaigner Sue Hessell added: “If this bears fruit it will be wonderful. Maybe the death of this beautiful young man earlier this month will finally be the last and it will be ‘suicide bridge’ no more.”

But Cllr Nilgun Canver, cabinet member for the environment, said she was hoping for “speedy progress” once they had English Heritage’s approval.

“I believe these measures may go some way to preventing more tragic deaths at this site by making it much more difficult for someone to gain access to the ledge,” she said.

“Suicide is very complicated and its prevention involves far more than physical barriers, but I hope we can assist and help people to think twice before trying to jump or give passers-by more time to intervene.”

* For confidential emotional support in a crisis, contact the Samaritans around the clock on 08457 90 90 90.