Norway mulls bridge fencing to tackle suicide

Norway mulls bridge fencing to tackle suicide
Photo: Harald Groven
Norway's roads authority is considering spending several hundred million kroner on fencing for many of the country's bridges in a bid to cut suicide, while researchers warn that jumpers may simply choose another bridge.

Around 500 people take their lives in Norway every year and 5 percent of them do it by jumping from a height. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Vegdirektoratet) is now considering securing more bridges across the nation in order to encourage more people to change their minds.

"We are referring to the downtown bridges in the larger cities and towns," said rre Stensvold at the administration.

The measure would however prove costly with the price tag to secure a mere 100 of the country's some 17,000 bridges coming in at around 200 million kroner ($36 million).

Furthermore international studies indicate that while security fencing can be effective on any individual bridge, there is no basis for the conclusion that suicide as a whole would decline.

"If you set up security fences on one bridge, it is possible that people will just go to another bridge," according to researcher Mark Sinoyr at the University of Toronto in Canada.

The example of Tromsø bridge in northern Norway would appear to support this assertion.

Seven years ago fences were increased to 2.5 metres and while there has not been a single suicide from the bridgeTromsø police report that they are often called out on suicide cases to a bridge on the other side of town.

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