Intervening at a “Suicide Hotspot”

October 09, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A project to reduce suicides in a park in Australia “known to be a hotspot for jumping suicides” led to a significant increase in calls to the police as well as an increase in calls to a crisis number from the park. There was an increase in the percentage of calls that distressed people made before they reached the cliff’s edge (allowing police more time to respond). There were also reductions in both jumps and deaths, though the changes were not statistically significant. The authors suggest that the project may be able to show a reduction in suicide attempts and suicides over a longer evaluation period.

The project included three measures to prevent suicides. To impede people from jumping, a fence was constructed that made it more difficult to access the cliff. To increase help-seeking by suicidal people, telephones were installed connecting directly to a crisis line (with no waiting), along with signs encouraging people to call the crisis line on their mobile telephones. To increase the chances that police or passers-by would intervene with a person at risk, closed-circuit television cameras were installed that allowed police to monitor the park, and the park’s amenities and landscape were improved to attract more visitors, thus increasing the number of bystanders who might notice a distressed person.

This summary is from: Lockley, A., Cheung, Y. T. D., Cox, G., Robinson, J., Williamson, M., Harris M.,…  & Pirkis, J. (2014). Preventing suicide at suicide hotspots: A case study from Australia. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 44(4), 392-407.