The Hornsey Lane Bridge Campaign was set up at the end of 2010, in response to the three deaths in nearly as many weeks from this notorious suicide spot.
Campaigners Sue Hessel and Sarah Cope with the flowers left in memory of the three men who jumped from the bridge in just over 3 weeks at the end of 2010.
Known locally as ‘Suicide Bridge’, there have been countless deaths at this site since the bridge was opened in 1903. Although Haringey Council previously heightened the barriers at the edges of the bridge, this hasn’t proved enough to stop people from taking their lives.
Our campaign has three key demands:
1. An anti-suicide net be set up under the bridge. This would catch anyone who jumped, and the drop from the net to the road would not be sufficient to cause death. Inevitably, the tendency to jump from the bridge would greatly diminish as it would not be possible to die at this spot.
An engineering company have such a net readily available at a cost of £95k plus VAT. This would actually save both lives and money, because the financial cost of suicides is high when road closures, police time, coroner’s inquests and reports, plus the cost of on-going counselling for friends, family and witnesses is taken into account. Indeed, a Scottish study from 2006 concluded that the cost of each suicide is £1.29 million .
Although there are no anti-suicide nets in place under other bridges around the UK, they have been used successfully in other European countries. For example, in Bern, Switzerland, the Muenster Terrace, a well-known suicide spot was fitted with a net. There have been no deaths at this spot since, nor have suicides from surrounding high structures increased .
2. Permanent, highly visible signs be displayed on the bridge itself. Following the deaths at the end of 2010, the Samaritans put up two signs on lampposts at either end of the bridge. However, they are above the eye line and in one case turned in and very difficult to spot. We would like to see permanent, highly visible signs regarding sources of help – including our suggested Freephone number – screwed into the posts of the bridge.
3. An ‘SOS’ phone be be reinstalled on the bridge. There used to be an ‘SOS’ phone on the bridge which desperate people could simple pick up and which enabled them to talk to someone at the Samaritans directly. This was removed, although the box is still there. Now suicidal people have to ‘phone the Samaritans from the BT payphone near the bridge. This requires them to have the correct change (the number is not a Freephone one), for the number to be displayed and for the telephone to be in working order.
The remains of the old 'S.O.S' telephone.
Haringey Council have ignored this problem for decades and this has only meant the death toll has risen. Not only do these deaths mean the end of many vulnerable lives, they are also severely traumatic for witnesses.
The bridge spans the busy A1, one of the most traffic-heavy roads in London. Every person that jumps risks ending not just their lives but passersby, both on foot and in vehicles.
Our fear is that with cuts to local mental health budgets the problem will only get worse. We need to take long overdue action to save lives NOW.
 ‘An Economic Perspective on Suicide across the five continents’ by David McDaid and Brendan Kennelly, from ‘The Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention: A Global Perspective’, edited by Danuta Wasserman and Camilla Wasserman (2009).
 The National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE): (http://www.nmhdu.org.uk/silo/files/guidance-on-action-to-be-taken-at-suicide-hotspots.pdf), p.10
So far in 2011 two men have jumped from the bridge, including one on 28th November who was pronounced dead at the scene. The following day a woman also threatened to jump but fortunately didn't commit suicide. The ongoing tragedies at this bridge make us determined that this last death is the final on, and that Haringey Council should take immediate action to protect the vulnerable and desparate.
Campaigner Sue Hessel lays flowers in memory of the latest suicide at the Hornsey Lane Bridge, November 2011