SAFETY NET - LUMINOUS VEIL OF AL BIRNEY

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 13:44.

After posting this morning, I had more thoughts about the nobility of the suicide-prevention fence.   I knew I should go back and visit it more closely because when I saw the bridge before I was with someone who was driving so I couldn’t stop. 

 

I was hoping to find a plaque or other information about the fence.   The wind was really blowing hard and it was about 15F.   With the mean wind chill it was not conducive to bridge walking.  But there was a constant stream of pedestrians, bicyclists and cars transversing the viaduct.  Under the deck I could hear the trolleys rumbling through. 

 

There was a small blue 12” square aluminum plaque screwed into the concrete abutment on the East side.   

 

 

 
LUMINOUS VEIL

 

The frigid wind was right in my face - making my eyes water...

Not only did Mr. Birney perserver and achieve his pragmatic goal of saving lives - and saving the horrific trauma to the “healthy” living public that every crumpled, bloodied body on the ground below must have wrought - Mr. Birney also created a working sculpture.   

 

What more beautiful sculpture can there be than a sculpture like the Luminous Veil that is built to help those less mentally committed to life than the sculptor and the sculptor’s financing patrons?  

 

When you read the San Francisco Chronicle’s description of Mr. Birney’s efforts , focus, and dedication - then you will know that Schumpeter would see Mr. Birney as an inspirational entrepreneur as well as a humanitarian and advocate. 

 

We needed a Mr. Birney in Cleveland in 1999 when the Cleveland City Council was debating the implementation of a “point of sale” inspection - like Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights have.   Perhaps if Mr. Birney had  lobbied Cleveland City Council then - as hard as the banks, developers, builders and corporate interests lobbied to prevent passage of “point of sale” - the areas in Glenville and elsewhere which Mary Beth Matthews has photographed - would remain at least as healthy as Shaker and Cleveland Heights are now. 

 

But Mr. Birney wasn’t in Cleveland in 1999, so the City Council did not protect their constituents' best interests, instead selling them all down the sub-prime river. So it isn’t as if the citizens who have lost their homes lost them by committing willful sub-prime suicide.  The citizens’ representatives on Council were aware of the danger - but failed to put up a fence to keep their taxpayering clients from jumping over the edge.

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Suicide prevention is everyone's work

I just came across the American Suicide Prevention Foundation whose web site is set up supports public "walks" (for suicide awareness and prevention) around the United States.    

In light of the recent Rutgers student's suicide off the George Washington Bridge - which stikes me as a hate crime as well as a violation of privacy crime - I am posting this comment to the Luminous Veil article -

The Veil fencing on the bridge in Toronto has stopped suicides from the bridge. 

The George Washington Bridge has sidewalks on both sides of it's 8 lanes of traffic. When I drove across (image is from west side toll booths) there was a fellow riding his bike on the right hand sidewalk.  The fellow's bike seat was about the same level as the top of the handrail.    I thought to my self - hope he doesn't have any imbalance on his bike or he'll end up in the Hudson.

The GW could be easily "veiled" - why not?

george washington bridge approach from west hudson sidewalks railing image 8.xx.10 jeff buster

 

 

Rebuffing suicide attempts requires diligence and ingenuity

 It appears from recent data/studies that thought there have been no suicides from the Luminous Veil bridge since the Veil was erected, the overall number of suicides in Toronto has stayed about steady - with more deaths from a bridge a few miles to the North of the Veil.  Here is one report on the steady statistics.  A more recent local Toronto report/study is here - read the last paragraph.

This writing by Isaac Sakinofsky, who served as one of the Luminous Veil construction consultants,  is the most considered discussion of suicide locus issues.

Engineers, architects, and social professionals - please begin to address suicide prevention in construction criteria.

Ingenuity and pro-active psychology in preventing bridge suicide

Around the world persons utilize bridges to jump from and end their lives.   

Wikipedia lists a number of the bridge sites.

Clearly, there is some type of attraction for persons considering suicide to jump from a bridge.    

Flying? for a moment...in the air.

Etherial?

I don't know.   But I do know that one's mood chemistry gone awry should not be a terminating condition. 

Keeping abreast of the suicide prevention situation, a few days ago I heard a radio report on PRI's THE WORLD about efforts in South Korea to deter suicides from a bridge in that country.

Instead of physically preventing jumping from the bridge - as the Luminous Veil does in Toronto  -  the South Korean effort attempts to convince the would be suicide person to change their mind - by attaching images of babies on the bridge railing....in an attempt to pursuade the person who is intersted in jumping - not to jump.  

It seems to me that attempting to use image psychology at the 11th hour on a popular suicide bridge misses the point...it isn't usually rational for an animal to kill itselt.   Expecting someone to respond "rationally" to images of babies - when their life chemistry is in shambles - I don't believe will deter nearly as well as the Luminous Veil.

I do, nonetheless, appreciate the South Korean recognition that society has a responsibility to assist those who are bent on termination.

 

 

Overcoming despair

Thanks for the reminder JB--this is a hard time for so many people.  See above. 

I wish we knew how to make living in our climate work for us.  I am glad that you revived this discussion, because GOOD design CAN make us HAPPY.

Akron addresses the suicide bridge

 From the Scene:

 

Akron Adds Fence to 'Suicide Bridge' to Prevent Jumpers

POSTED BY VINCE GRZEGOREK ON THU, AUG 18, 2011 AT 10:00 AM

 

Akron will finally be adding fencing to the All-America Bridge, which is also known as the the Y-Bridge, but which is more commonly referred to as Suicide Bridge. Dozens have leaped to their deaths from the span since it was built in 1981.

More

 

Suicide Prevention....

You'd be surprised how much you could change a suicidal person's perspective with....

...an unexpected smile.

...a loving hug...

...an honest consideration for their well being...

---asking them "HOW ARE YOU?" and then shutting your mouth long enough to allow them to "VENT" their deepest feelings without interrupting them or judging them for feeling so dark and depressed.

.... a few kind words...

....a few moments of friendship...

....a few lines of accolades that remind them that they have "value" to our world.

....or  by giving them an unexpected kiss that distracts them from that sense of loneliness that is eating away at them.

...or by taking a good (oxygenating) walk with them to help find "clarity" in their situation.

So many signs; so little time.

 

 

Always Appreciative, "ANGELnWard14"

Columbus Dispatch: urban vs rural suicide rates

">Researcher Cynthia Fontanella, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, found that among male youths, the suicide rate in rural areas was 19.93 per 100,000 compared with a rate of 10.31 among youths living in urban areas.

 

Similarly, the suicide rate of young rural females was 4.40 compared with a rate of 2.39 among urban females.

And the disparity is widening, said Fontanella.

“We kind of expected that there would be a larger suicide rate among rural youth than urban,” said Fontanella, who worked on the study for a year with fellow researcher John Campo, chair of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Wexner Medical Center, and a team of five co-authors. “ There are a number of possible reasons: a significant shortage of mental-health care in rural areas, geographic, social and economic isolation and a greater access to guns.”

“What we didn’t expect was that the disparities are widening over time,” said Fontanella.

She said that one possible explanation is that access to guns is declining in urban settings while remaining stable in more rural areas.

Campo said that about 90 percent of those who attempt suicide suffer from some sort of mental or physical illness. Among the younger population, substance abuse was one of the largest risk factors. About half of the suicides were committed with a gun, although that number is falling, while 34 percent died by hanging, a number that has been increasing in recent years.

Ohio’s suicide rates reflect the national trends, said Fontanella.

She said that in Ohio, there were 1,484 suicides in 2011. Of those, 211 were committed by youths ages 10 to 24.

The state’s highest suicides rates by county occurred in Morgan (26.6 per 100,000), Athens (23.2), Adams (22.4), Monroe (20.5) and Meigs (19.4) — all largely rural counties.

The largely metropolitan counties had significantly lower suicide rates, including Cuyahoga (10.8), Franklin (11.4) and Hamilton (11.5).

Holmes County has the lowest suicide rate at 6.1, possibly because of its large Amish population. Fontanella said, “There’s a lot of stigma around suicide around the Amish, and it’s a very close-knit community.”

The results could help target how a $1 million suicide-prevention fund, established for 2015 by Gov. John Kasich and administered by the Ohio Department of Health, might be used.

That fund is designated for suicide education and awareness, treatment, screening for high-risk individuals, mitigating access to lethal means and better follow-up with those who have made a suicide attempt.

elyttle [at] dispatch [dot] com

@ewlyttle