Blocking access to known “suicide hotspots,” such as bridges or tall buildings, with barriers and safety nets has been found to reduce suicides by more than 90%.
In a large meta-analysis published in The Lancet Psychiatry, Pirkis and colleagues did a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that examined the effectiveness of three suicide interventions: restricting access to suicide hotspots, encouraging help-seeking (by placing signs and crisis telephones around the area), and increasing the likelihood of intervention by a third party (by increasing CCTV surveillance and suicide patrols). They used modeling to estimate the effect of the interventions in isolation or combined with other interventions.
Analysis of data comparing the number of suicides at various hotspots before and after interventions were installed showed that interventions significantly lowered the number of suicides at these sites. Deaths dropped from an average of 5.8 suicides each year before interventions (863 suicides over 150 study years) to an average of 2.4 deaths per year after the interventions (211 suicides over 88 study years).
Restricting access to hotspots resulted in 91% fewer suicides per year in combination with other interventions, and 93% fewer suicides when used alone. Encouraging help-seeking reduced suicides by 51% per year in combination with other interventions, and by 61% alone. Increasing the likelihood of third party intervention when in combination with other approaches led to 47% fewer suicides.
“Although suicide methods at high-risk locations are not the most common ways for people to take their own lives and may only have a small impact on overall suicide rates, suicide attempts at these sites are often fatal and attract high profile media attention which can lead to copycat acts. These methods of suicide also have a distressing impact on the mental well-being of witnesses and people who live or work near these locations,” said lead researcher Jane Pirkis, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, in a press release.
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Blocking the means of suicide (eg, installing barriers and safety nets) at suicide hotspots like high bridges and cliffs can reduce the number of deaths at these sites by more than 90%, new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry has found.
For the first time, this large meta-analysis shows that a variety of other suicide prevention approaches currently being used at known hotspots around the world, including encouraging help-seeking (eg, placing signs and crisis telephones) and increasing the likelihood of intervention by a third party (eg, increasing surveillance by using CCTV and suicide patrols), also appear to significantly lower the number of deaths at these locations.