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Edmonton council puts phones on bridge as suicide prevention measure

EDMONTON — Edmonton city council has voted to take measures to prevent people from committing suicide off the High Level Bridge.

Councillors voted in favour of spending $20,000 to install distress phones at the bridge’s four points of entry.

The phones will have the potential to connect to both a crisis support centre as well as 911, which a city report says would be invaluable to bystanders dealing with a crisis situation.

Signage will also be installed on the bridge to explain the purpose and function of the distress phones, at a cost of $400.

Dan Klemke, whose wife jumped off the bridge to her death, says he’d like to see more measures such as improved railings on the bridge.

He says his wife was suffering from a severe reaction to an immunization and related medication.

Mayor Don Iveson indicated he has personally lost two friends who jumped off the High Level but says while improved railings may be an idea worth pursuing, suicide prevention is a much bigger issue.

“Obviously, there’s a huge need for investment in mental health and counselling for people,” said Iveson. “That’s not the city’s jurisdiction, but where we have a site in the city that is a piece of transportation infrastructure that has some risk associated with it, and a track record of tragedy, I think some intervention is required and we’re going to look at that seriously.”

Edmonton’s chief medical examiner said there were 14 deaths around the High Level Bridge as the result of suicide in the last year.

 
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