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N.B. suicide prevention group wants barriers installed on Reversing Falls bridge

Click to play video: 'Saint John’s suicide prevention committee wants to make Reversing Falls bridge safer' Saint John’s suicide prevention committee wants to make Reversing Falls bridge safer
WATCH ABOVE: A Saint John’s suicide prevention committee is working to make the Reversing Falls Bridge safer with the help of the woman responsible for getting safety barriers installed on one of Halifax’s harbour bridges. Global’s Adrienne South reports – Sep 8, 2016

A suicide prevention group in Saint John, N.B. says installing barriers on the Reversing Falls bridge could save lives, and they’re hopeful the government will move ahead with installation.

Community Suicide Prevention Committee chairperson Gregory Zed says he is hopeful the provincial government will announce plans soon to add barriers and safety features to the iconic bridge.

READ MORE: Experts hopeful new Macdonald Bridge safety barriers will be more effective

He says so far the communication he’s had with the government is promising and he believes an announcement could come at any time.

“We’ve got word that the government is looking favourable upon this and now it’s just a matter of time to say ‘when can we sort of have the work done, designed, [and] completed?'” Zed said.

“Our committee actually looked at this in 2015 and we did some research and we found there was sufficient evidence to warrant looking into the barriers,” Zed said.

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Zed says every year approximately 100 people take their own lives in New Brunswick, and while he was unable to provide numbers relating to the number of suicides that occurred at the Reversing Falls bridge, he says emergency vehicles are called to the bridge on a “fairly regular basis.”

“We’re very, very hopeful that in the foreseeable future we’ll get a response [from government]. Thus far it’s been very positive,” Zed said.

He says he understands the government needs to take a good look at everything in terms of the budgeting process.  He says the group hasn’t pushed too much in terms of a timeline, but says he has every confidence in government that they will install the barriers to help prevent suicides.

In addition to wanting barriers, Zed tells Global News he would also like to see signage for emergency help lines that would encourage people to seek help.

Zed says any time proactive measure can be taken to reduce the risk of suicide it is a step towards saving a life.

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“One wouldn’t think you would necessarily need barriers for 440 bridges in the province of New Brunswick, but in areas where there’s a propensity for people to go, then any barrier to self-harm would reduce suicide,” Zed said.

Carol Rolfe-Higney says her son died after jumping off the MacDonald bridge in Halifax.  Since her son’s death in 2007, Rolfe-Higney fought to have barriers installed in Halifax, which were installed in 2009.

Rolfe-Higney says she’s received called from concerned citizens in Saint John. After sharing her story with many other communities, she hopes to see positive change in New Brunswick.

“I guess the whole community is advocating for barriers on that bridge, but I don’t know, as of January there still wasn’t anything,” Rolfe-Higney said.

The provincial government was unable to provide any additional information at the time this story was published.

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