We commend Matthieu Aikins on his poignant, well researched and written piece in last week's Coast ("Adam's fall," February 7). Aikins presents a strong argument for the construction of a barrier on the Macdonald Bridge, citing scientific evidence, expert opinion, personal anecdotes and common sense in support of restricting access to suicide "hot-spots." As an adolescent psychiatrist and a suicide researcher, we know that it is a mistake to ignore the issue of suicide---the second leading cause of death of young people in Canada. Therefore, we find it difficult to comprehend the statement of Bridge Commission CEO Steve Snider that, "We'd just as well not talk about suicide at all."
In 2006, the Nova Scotia government released its Framework to Address Suicide. One of the specified goals was the "reduction of access to lethal means of suicide" (Goal 3.3). Unlike many other suicide-prevention strategies, there is evidence that means restriction is effective. Construction of a safety barrier would reduce access to a lethal means of suicide---jumping from the Macdonald Bridge. Construction of a safety barrier would lessen the torment resulting from suicide felt by family members, friends and communities. We cannot understand active inaction on this issue. This is basic public health. It's time for the Bridge Commission to get with the framework.
By Dr. Stan Kutcher, Magdalena Szumilas