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Renewed calls to erect barriers at Saint John’s Reversing Falls Bridge

There are renewed concerns about the Reversing Falls Bridge in Saint John being used as a location for suicide attempts. As Andrew Cromwell reports, one Saint John councilor has spoken to the province about erecting so-called suicide barriers.

New Brunswick Transportation Minister Bill Oliver says suicide fencing is one option to be looked at when it comes to the increasing number of emergency calls to Saint John’s Reversing Falls Bridge.

There is growing concern about the bridge being used as a location for suicide attempts.

READ MORE (Sept. 8, 2017): N.B. suicide prevention group wants barriers installed on Reversing Falls bridge

Police calls to the area this year are way up, including two incidents earlier this week that were reported within 30 minutes of each other.

“It’s never a situation that they want to be in,” said Jim Hennessy, a spokesperson for the Saint John Police Force.

Those calls are coming in increasing numbers, especially in 2019.

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Police say they have responded to 32 mental health calls at the bridge this year — a figure that is already six more than all of 2018.

The city is not willing to let this issue go. Late last month, Common Council unanimously endorsed a motion to send yet another letter to the province requesting barricades here at Reversing Falls.

Councillor Gary Sullivan was behind that motion. He has lost family members to mental health issues but a recent event renewed his belief that the barriers are necessary.

“Somebody I’m very close to witnessed a successful attempt this summer on the Reversing Falls Bridge where they were driving across the bridge and just watched somebody step over the side,” said Sullivan

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Sullivan has spoken with Minister Oliver about bridge fencing and he believes the minister is taking the matter seriously.

“This is something we can have an effect with,”added Sullivan. “A fence at the reversing falls bridge, all the statistics show, all the research shows it will prevent suicides.”

Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, there are resources available.

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In case of an emergency, please call 911. If you or a loved one has mental health issues, you can contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566, or Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.