Reducing or just redirecting suicide?

(I suspect this belongs elsewhere, but since I’m not sure I’ll let the mods teleport it as necessary)

In Edmonton, we have had a number of suicides jumping off The High-Level Bridge in recent years. As a result, the city is considering various options to make it much more difficult to jump off it (as well as phones at either end to call crisis counseliing - that I don’t object to).

I’m sure there are lots of other cities with similar situations (convenient bridges with significant jumpers). Have remedial actions to their bridges ever been shown to reduce overall suicide counts for the city in question? I have no training in anything relevant, but I would have thought that if a convenient bridge was made inconvenient that a suicide would simply find another method. At least a jumper is much more public than someone deciding “F! it! I’ll just swallow a bottle of Tylenol and go to bed!”. Is it really for the best to ensure there are no ways for someone to make an attempt where there is some hope of other people noticing and interfering in time?

This is specifically addressed in this Cracked article.

So it does seem that making it more difficult for someone to off themselves in a moment of despair actually does lower suicide rates overall.

The Wikipedia article on suicide barriers has links to a number of studies. Some show a reduction in overall suicides when a barrier is installed, but others are more ambiguous.

Similarly, restricting access to guns reduced suicide rates – or at least I think I’ve read that a few times.

I heard some discussion of this on NPR (and as someone with mild depressive tendencies I was interested).

Apparently a large number of people who attempt suicide once, impulsively, never try again.

And yea, access to guns is a major predictor of suicide rate. people without guns make attempts, but they’re more likely to fail.

Probably a lot of people who attempt suicide change their mind immediately after the attempt. If you slash your wrists you can still call 911 and probably successfully save yourself. But if you jump off a bridge and immediately say to yourself “I don’t want to do this”–it’s too late.

If you are truly low income (or even moderate income), income based repayment is going to be far lower than the 15% max. I doubt the “school forever” approach would ever be a financial win for anyone.

I’d imagine also that suicide barriers are a good impediment to the stupid / darwin brigade. Although the lives saved by that may not be very significant.

Hell, in the UK the switch in domestic gas supplies from coal gas (which is poisonous, and was commonly used to commit suicide) to natural gas (which is not poisonous) led to a marked, and sustained, reduction in the suicide rate.

Surprising as it may seem, there is evidence from a diversity of sources to suggest that people’s propensity to commit suicide is affected by the ready availabilty of a suicide method which they consider acceptable.

Might this belong in another thread?

Note also the decision not to sell aspirin and similar OTC pain medications in large quantities anymore - now you can only buy them in foil packs of 16. Not only did changing the way these pills were sold make “swallowing a bottle of Tylenol” difficult but also mitigated the effects of unsuccessful attempts which often resulted in severe liver damage.

Impulse-driven suicides in the UK still have the option of leaping in front of trains - which is bloody inconsiderate, if you ask me - but thanks to the retirement of the old slam-door stock at least they can’t jump out of trains anymore.

Even if reducing bridge jumping does only redirect suicides to stay-at-home methods, I think that’s still a very slight benefit. When someone jumps off a bridge, search and rescue resources are engaged - putting the rescue crews at risk (and potentially, putting at risk the other people they might have been rescuing instead).

Not only that, it reduces the number of attempted suicides (that is, the total of both those that are successful and those that aren’t). So its not just that people without access to guns are having to go find less effective means to off themselves, without the presence of an easy way to do the deed, many apparently don’t end up even trying.

I think both that and the research people mentioned above regarding barriers suggest that a sizeable fraction of suicides are much more “spur-of-the-moment” affairs then one might think. Some people will only actually try and kill themselves if some easy method of doing so presents itself at a critical moment.

This is what the Cracked article said. Basically, many suicides are impulse decisions, driven by people who are feeling overwhelmed by whatever crisis has betset them. Given time, many of these people will come to their senses and abandon the idea of killing themself.

Another benefit is that, as I understands it, very public suicides can set off waves of suicide, especially among teenagers. It normalizes or even idealizes the behavior. Quiet, at-home suicides are less dangerous to other mentally ill people.

Interesting. To clarify my concerns - I had thought that suicides would simply go for something easy and convenient; if a bridge ceased being convenient they would just pick something else for their spontaneous act (so saying that most people unsuccessfully attempting suicide never try again isn’t really relevant to my concerns; it is that one attempt I am puzzling over). Clearly you have shown me that there is a lot more to it than that. I’ll have to muse over it some more.

People who are in the grip of depression aren’t terribly motivated to put a lot of effort and planning into things, including their own deaths. And presumably a lot of people who might kill themselves go back and forth on the issue, which makes sustained planning even more difficult.

And if you don’t have a gun and don’t live near a cliff/bridge without barriers, it isn’t actually that trivial to find a way to quickly off yourself that doesn’t require any set up, will be painless and is guaranteed not to simply leave you maimed. Stabbing/cutting hurts, throwing yourself off a house or smaller building might not kill you instantly on impact, poisons can be painful and require some knowledge of what your doing, hanging takes both set up and hurts, etc.

I’ve often heard that suicide by jumping is the worst way to go, because a large percentage of people change their minds after they jump - but I’ve always wondered how this is known. Do they give all prospective jumpers a questionnaire to fill out as they fall?

Probably most people who survived - at least long enough to say something about it - report that. I don’t think this is the article where I first read this particular quote from a Golden Gate jumper, but this quote always struck me: "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.” There are other quotes like that there, and mentions of not wanting to stand up on the edge but just jump as fast as possible out of fear of losing their nerve.

Missed the edit window: Another article about reducing suicide methods, with more quotes from survivors about near-immediate regret.