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    Bridge Barrier Fails to Lower Toronto's Suicide Rate

    Suicide-by-jumping rate at Bloor Street Viaduct lower; rates at other bridges higher

    WEDNESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- The construction of a barrier to prevent suicide on a Toronto bridge that had the world's second-highest rate of suicide by jumping prevented suicides at that specific location, but the overall rate of suicide by jumping in Toronto remained the same, according to research published online July 6 in BMJ.

    Mark Sinyor, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and Anthony J. Levitt, M.D., of the Women's College Hospital in Toronto, assessed the records of 14,789 people who completed suicide in the city of Toronto and in the province of Ontario, Canada. Records were from the chief coroner's office of Ontario, and covered the periods of 1993 to 2001 -- before the barrier -- and July 2003 to June 2007 -- after the barrier at Bloor Street Viaduct was erected.

    The researchers found that annual rates of suicide by jumping in Toronto were unchanged between the periods before and after the erection of the barrier (56.4 versus 56.6; P = 0.95). While a mean of 9.3 suicides occurred annually at Bloor Street Viaduct before construction of the barrier, none occurred after the barrier was erected. Yearly rates of suicide by jumping from other bridges (14.2 versus 8.7) and buildings (42.7 versus 38.5) were higher after the barrier at Bloor Street Viaduct was constructed compared to the period before the barrier was erected, although these findings were significant only for other bridges.

    "Although the barrier prevented suicides at Bloor Street Viaduct, the rate of suicide by jumping in Toronto remained unchanged. This lack of change might have been due to a reciprocal increase in suicides from other bridges and buildings. This finding suggests that Bloor Street Viaduct may not have been a uniquely attractive location for suicide and that barriers on bridges may not alter absolute rates of suicide by jumping when comparable bridges are nearby," the authors write.

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