Preventing Suicides at “Hot Spots”

A Swiss psychologist friend took me on a tour of his hometown of Bern during which we stopped at Muenster Terrace. He walked me to the edge and pointed out an array of nets above the houses far below the terrace. My friend told me that so many people had leapt to their deaths from the Terrace, ending their own lives and traumatizing the residents in the neighborhood below, that the nets had been installed to prevent suicides.

I asked skeptically whether this just meant that the same people would commit suicide somewhere else. My friend said that there was no evidence that had happened. Careful research backs him up, as it does the success of other barriers to suicide at sites which gain a reputation as a place to end one’s life.

The success at Muenster Terrace is one of multiple demonstrations that the most common suicide site in the world needs a suicide barrier. I discuss that place and how to make it safe in my latest piece at Huffington Post.