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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Suicide Prevention Barriers on Cold Springs Bridge

From a highly-respected environmentalist citizen stringer who thought this would be a good topic...
=============
I think that you would do an important public service by giving your readers an opportunity to comment on the proposal by CalTrans to install so-called suicide prevention barriers on the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge on Scenic Highway 154. Information about the proposal can be found on the CalTrans website.

The Independent had a story about it on June 5 2007.

CalTrans has made promises to those who favor the barriers that it will "expedite" the approval process, while many in the community question the wisdom of such an approach and point to the need for a careful (not expedited) consideration of impacts on important scenic, aesthetic and historic public resources. For example, the Land Use Committee of the Citizens Planning Association has stated:

"Approaches to suicide prevention should be carefully and comprehensively planned to assure that important public resources are not unnecessarily degraded or destroyed. The Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge on Scenic Highway 154 is an important scenic, aesthetic and historic public resource, widely renowned for the dramatic grace and beauty of its design.

The fact that the bridge has been used occasionally for the commission of suicide (once a year on average since its construction) does not warrant any kind of "expedited process" to install so-called suicide prevention barriers that will have significant adverse impacts on the scenic, aesthetic and historical features of this important public resource.

For that reason we strongly support a full and comprehensive review of any and all proposals for the installation of such barriers, including a careful consideration of a full range of project alternatives."

90 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is 2010 "expedited"......there has been and will continue to be a full, public process; many groups have been carefully, thoughtfully working on this project for well over a year---very publicly.

Let's continue to move forward on this important public safety issue and not allow it to be derailed by misplaced fears.

If it prevents one suicide, it is worth it.

7/19/2007 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put one in ASAP - it can be even a net below the bridge and out of sight, but clearly something that some one who jumps would get saved in, but not interfere with the views from the bridge. Make the activity unattractive; not the bridge and the view. And I hope this does not sound callous.

7/19/2007 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have been acquainted with two people who jumped off the bridge (years apart). The time it took them to get there obviously did not cause them to rethink their decision. I think that barriers would probably cause those who are planning suicide to use another method. as I believe either of them would have done.
Also, I wonder if many people wouldn't be distressed with the reminder of suicide/death a barrier would present, especially for those who must drive over the bridge frequently. And what a sad welcome it would be upon entering the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.
Too bad some sort of less visually intrusive surveillance camera/sensor system/timely deterrent response cannot be utilized, but I suppose that would be quite unworkable there.

7/19/2007 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, barriers are the ONE thing proven to be a deterrent--not only to the particular moment, but to subsequent suicides....

let's get something done before any more jump

7/20/2007 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I think this is nuts. Someone who wants to commit suicide is not going to be deterred because CalTrans put barriers on the Cold Springs Bridge. I could give dozens of examples of other natural and man-made situations in SB that could be used for suicide, but what's the point?

I don't know if the proponents of this come from a moral or religious perspective, but it's a misguided effort, and one that will not produced their desired result. There are things that are beyond the ability of government to legislate or prohibit.

It's inappropriate to balance issues of money or environmentalism against human life, but spending money and putting up barriers high enough and wide enough to stop someone from jumping would be a waste of resources and an eyesore that wouldn't work anyway.

7/20/2007 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a certain "highly respected, environmentalist citizen stringer" doesn't have much regard for human life...

One person dead per year isn't worth taking action?

7/20/2007 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If someone wants to kill themselves they should be allowed to do that. We have no right to stop them. We are already talking about legalizing assisted suicide for the aging and should expect to hear more on that topic. One person a year? So!

7/20/2007 1:20 PM  
Blogger jqb said...


If it prevents one suicide, it is worth it.


So would it be worth leveling every building tall enough to jump from and die? Would it be worth it to ban all substances or objects that could potentially be used for suicide?

Aside from the absurdity of "it is worth it", I don't think any intelligent person could believe that such barriers can prevent any suicides. It's like thinking you can reduce bank robberies by closing a bank -- potential robbers just won't rob thatbank.

7/20/2007 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if anyone is interested in a purely fact-based assesment, there are numerous studies on the web demonstrating the effectiveness of barriers...here's one, from UC Berkeley:
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/97legacy/gate.html

Too bad there are some in town [one?] attempting to make this a polarizing issue. It is not. It doesn't have to be. Shame. Shame.

7/20/2007 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cold Springs bridge is not only beautiful but also an engineering achievement that really has no equal in the County. It would be a shame to mess it up. The "one suicide" a year will undoubtedly just relocate some other place. I agree with the tall building analogy by another poster. We can't close the beaches because people have been known to go out there and drown themselves. It's a feel-good but ultimately ridiculous idea. Caltrans has better things to spend their dough on. How about better guard rails for 154 so people who would rather not kill themselves don't have to?

7/20/2007 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm outraged that Santa Barbara city council would spend all of its taxpayer money on a suicide prevention fence on the beautiful Cold Springs Arch bridge.

Think of all the gang prevention programs that $12,000 for the bridge could have paid for!!!!!

7/20/2007 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Greg Mohr said...

I'll reserve judgment until I see the engineering drawings and renderings, but as a concept I generally agree that this would be a waste of money that better would be spent on other safety projects with wider public benefit. So, all you anonymouses (anonymice?), come out to the Caltrans meeting next week!

7/21/2007 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm for barriers... read about the Bloor Street Viaduct:

Lethal Beauty

it's saved 20 lives a year at a cost of US $6 million.

7/21/2007 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of all the gang prevention programs that $12,000 for the bridge could have paid for!!!!!

Not a hell of a lot, that's basically chump change.

7/21/2007 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many misconceptions out there about suicide in general and the barriers specifically. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Just because a person is in crisis at one point in time does NOT mean they will always be in crisis. As another well-informed blogger stated, the majority of people who are suicidal and are prevented from jumping (94%) do NOT go on to commit suicide by some other means. I would encourage you all to read the study, attend the meeting, educate yourselves and only then decide which side of the fence you will sit on.

7/21/2007 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't even know what the proposed barrier will look like yet! How about we take a 'wait and see' approach before passing judgement?

7/21/2007 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One death - insignificant? Tell that to the 1500 friends, family and fellow students who attended the memorial service for the 17 year old boy who committed suicide by jumping from the Cold Spring Bridge two years ago. His death has left an indelible mark on this community. So much sadness; so many broken hearts; so many shattered dreams. One life touches so many.

7/21/2007 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Highway 154 is an officially-designated Scenic Highway. Fencing does not seem appropriate for a scenic highway. We should look at other alternatives before considering a visually-intrusive fence.

7/21/2007 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I see it: One suicide equals one less person to contribute to Global Warming. Caring for the Planet trumps everything else. Let them jump. Perhaps even encourage it.

7/21/2007 2:01 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Anonymous 6:57 P.M.
This is not a city council project.

The bridge span is probably only a couple 10ths of a mile long. Even though I don't drive this route often, I always comment on the vista. I wouldn't mind giving up a little vista for the trade off of suicide prevention. It needs to be more difficult to prevent. The responders retreiving the bodies need consideration here also. Shouldn't we be paying attention to your driving anyway? If barriers are determined to be the best option then I certainly can accept it.

7/21/2007 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Rod Kelly said...

Dear God!

A nice view versus a human life? How cynical have we become in the age of Bush? Picture your son/daughter/mother /father falling, dead in that tangled, forbidding ravine and then reconsider the view from there. Not so nice.

7/21/2007 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad idea! Spend the money one something that will benefit more than just a few.

7/21/2007 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drive that bridge often & yes the view is beautiful but not as beautiful as one life being saved.

The reason this barrier is going forward is because they work.

It is painful to read some of the callous comments here. I guess that is the nature of the blogoshere which can attract some pretty strange people.

The gauge of a civilized society is how the individual, who is less fortunate & this includes mental illness, is treated.

If barriers work, as apparently they do, what is the price you'd say was worth it to save the life of someone you love? Anyone?

7/22/2007 10:50 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

This has devolved into yet another false and stupid "debate" like all the contrived outrage about the City of Santa Barbara spending $12 thousand for the Light Blue Line project.

Why get so hot and bothered about that particular $12 thousand spending choice, when the rest of the City General Fund budget is $105 million of choices that also could be redirected to whatever alternative spending priority has been suggested for that $12 thousand?!?!

Conversely, why suddenly such a specific and frothy outrage about a suicide prevention priority on that bridge when so, so many other options for public spending are possible that can prevent suicides and improve public health and overall reduction in avoidable human deaths?!?!

This is all yet another emotional irrationality to risk perception versus true risk management.

Are the people really outraged here the same ones who speed down that highway zipping across on Cold Springs Arch Bridge while text messaging on their phones on their way home after getting drunk at Rancho San Marcos Golf Course?!?!

If we want to save lives, many, many other social and governmental choices would be far, far more effective rather than slapping up some fugly fence atop that bridge.

7/22/2007 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why a fence on the Cold Springs bridge must necessarily be ugly.

People ended up liking the barrier on the Bloor Street Viaduct.

What our civic agencies do is always a compromise. An awful lot of lives would be saved if we banned cigarettes, alcohol, and fatty foods. Most people who choose to use those items aren't seriously ill, however. They are in some sense choosing the risk of free will.

But those near suicide are seriously ill. I think omitting a barrier is like withholding medical care to someone in urgent need.

7/22/2007 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let them jump. If they go to all the trouble of getting up there why stop them.

7/22/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One less person a year contribuiting to global warming. Wake up people, these are people who are one too many each year that live on this earth.

We need to save Mother Nature, not some person who feels they are worthless. Let's find people who are worthwhile.

7/22/2007 4:38 PM  
Anonymous not evil said...

wow. you people are evil. i hope none of you ever have to experience a suicide in your family, or that you find yourself in a situation of deep depression that you think you need a way out. it's amazing how your anonymity leaves you in the clear to say some of the most evil and selfish things i've ever read.

7/22/2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

This post did not go the way I thought it would and the above sums it up quite well....the problem, 8 PM, is that most people are selfish, hunh?

7/22/2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Rod Kelly said...

No, Sara, people are not selfish or cynical; people who are able to drop horrible negative posts anonymously on weblogs are able to seem so. If the commenters above were to attend any of the suicide prevention forums taking place in the coming weeks, I am positive that they would come away not only informed, but empathetic to the effect suicide has on it's victims and survivors.

7/22/2007 9:32 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

No, the problem is not selfishness, but that some crude windbags love to get a rise out of people by leaving crass and ridiculous anonymous comments that will stir up peoples' blood. Ignore them for what they are: Trolls.

If you want to enjoy the scenery, how about pulling off at the vista point? You can sit as long as you like, get out of the car, and enjoy the view... that is if you can spare the time to appreciate a scene that so many seem to be concerned about missing out on if a barrier is constructed.

I'm glad someone posted the Berkeley study and the issue of the Golden Gate barrier -- which is a much bigger aesthetic issue than Cold Springs. It's not like we're the only community grappling with these issues.

7/23/2007 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I want to kill myself, I don't want anyone trying to stop me. Sorry, but this is a bad idea. Let them kill themselves.

7/23/2007 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applaud those who are speaking out in favor of suicide prevention barriers at the Cold Springs Bridge. A similar disconcerting issue involving suicides from the Foresthill Bridge in Placer County was portrayed on the front page of the Sacramento Bee newspaper today. Placer County was persuaded to install six emergency phones on the bridge two years ago. I suggest Caltrans contact Placer County to learn more of their experience with suicide prevention. Also, as a parent of a mentally ill son, I believe some course of action to save even "a life a year" is never too much to ask. Surely, by what measure will we judge ourselves if not by how we care for those who are unable to care for themselves?

7/23/2007 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imo, there are two issues: one is design review on a beautiful arched bridge on a Scenic Highway. The other is suicide prevention.

Surely, CalTrans can work together with knowledgeable suicide prevention groups and come up with a design that is effective - and inconspicuous IF these barriers are effective.

Some have said, it's worth the cost to save a life. If that's so, then every public building that has any accessbile rooftop or windows for climbing out should be barred and made in accessible.

Having known two people who committed suicide, one a very close friend who talked at length about it beforehand for weeks, I know that sometimes there is no dissuasion and one should respect the choice. At the same time, it is always hellish for the survivors.

(For the workers having to retrieve the body, it is probably less hellish than what the CHP and others have to deal with drink/drug induced and killing auto accidents. We don't put speed limiters and ignition connected alcohol sniffer gadjets in every car, for instance.)

I don't think the process should be expedited. What's the rush? — unless there are known numbers of people lined up waiting to jump.

...I doubt that is so. Therefore, examine all possible solutions, including preventing access at either end of the span. (Of course, that won't stop someone from stopping his car and leaping from the middle --- but it is simply impossible to prevent everything one would like to prevent.)

7/23/2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that people educate themselves before passing judgement and making descisions that have such important implications for another's life. People who have said that they "will go somewhere else to jump" or will use another method have clearly not read the studies mentioned above much less the others that are out there on this topic.Please attend the meeting to hear the facts and arguemnts before making a decision. On a different note, what kind of message are we putting out there when we say that a "scenic" view is worth more than a life. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to do what is best for others. Sacrificing the view from the bridge, when we Santa Barbarans are luck to have many beautiful views, is minor. Think of all the sacrifices (big and small) people have made for your safety and well being and then reevaluate if saving one person a year is worth this price.

7/23/2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is too funny. If someone wants to jump I'll drive them up there.

7/23/2007 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The simple fact is that suicides don't occur off of most buildings, but they do occur off bridges, particularly those with beautiful views like Cold Springs and the Golden Gate Bridge.

That's why barriers on those bridges would save lives.

Some people will find a way to kill themselves no matter what, but by no means will everyone who wants to kill themselves keep trying until they succeed. I have no doubt at all that a Cold Springs barrier would save lives, and is worth the expenditure.

I'm not a transportation bureaucrat, just a taxpayer who wants public works projects to save lives.

7/24/2007 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I was a volunteer on a suicide prevention intervention hotline in a community with a number of bridges from which one had incredible views of the local gorges. The reality is that accessibility to a means of committing suicide enables some to act. Replacing an easily scaled waist high barrier with a significantly higher barrier certainly reduced the number of suicide attempts in this particular community. Over time, people came to think the views were as "gorgeous" as they were before. On the Cold Spring Bridge, I'm all for making aesthetics a critical design criterion for a barrier that functions as a significant suicide prevention deterrent.

7/24/2007 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote out the fundamentalists. Allow dignity, respect and euthanasia for those suffering. 6:00 PM will find other despair to tickle their funny bone. And we can keep the beautiful view.

7/24/2007 9:38 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

if anyone is interested in a purely fact-based assesment, there are numerous studies on the web demonstrating the effectiveness of barriers...here's one, from UC Berkeley:
http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/97legacy/gate.html


Sorry, but an honest person needs to understand what facts are relevant. Not all bridges are equal.

the above sums it up quite well.

Really, Sara, you think that saying people who disagree with you are evil sums it up? Perhaps you've been following Wendy so long you're starting to take on her thought processes.

7/24/2007 1:30 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

Imo, there are two issues: one is design review on a beautiful arched bridge on a Scenic Highway. The other is suicide prevention.

Yes, quite. But Sara and others seem to think that those who are able to distinguish between the two are "evil". Sadly, they are not even capable of distinguishing between callous trolls and thoughtful people who understand that some risk avoidance is disproportionate. Rather than worrying about barriers on a remote bridge, they should be more concerned about impoverished schools, low wages, lack of health insurance, and so on that contribute to suicide. Want to reduce the number of suicides? Keep Republicans out of office, enact single payer health care, and work for political reform that reduces the power of lobbyists.

7/24/2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

This is all yet another emotional irrationality to risk perception versus true risk management.

Exactly.

Are the people really outraged here the same ones who speed down that highway zipping across on Cold Springs Arch Bridge while text messaging on their phones on their way home after getting drunk at Rancho San Marcos Golf Course?!?!

I suspect that applies to more than one of those who is so amped about this barrier and consider anyone who doesn't think it's a good idea to be "evil". It's a convenient way to feel like one is doing something about a problem while personally not doing anything other than ranting on a blog.

7/24/2007 1:45 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

jqb and others -- this was a community post written by a reader....I didn't say anything was evil or make any link to the planning of the bridge being more important than real people. Please don't link me to that...it's not where I am coming from. As I said above, this topic isn't going where I thought and that's okay -- but I never wrote anything about being evil.

7/24/2007 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone attend tonight's meeting? what was the sentiment?

7/25/2007 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there. The sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of the barrier.

As someone who holds a PhD in social science statistics, I was troubled by this, since despite the claims in the studies cited during the presentation, there is no solid evidence that such barriers actually save lives.

I'm happy to expand on the flaws in the studies cited in previous literature if anyone is interested, but the basic story is that we're rushing to a decision based in part on faulty information.

7/26/2007 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there as well. Only two people supported no barrier and one of them behaved like a lunatic.

Bottom line is people care more about saving the lives of their friends and neighbors than preserving the aesthetics of the bridge and the impact that might have on the feel of driving on a state historic highway.

Sounds pretty sensible and at any rate this project has years of public input ahead of it before final approval might be given.

7/26/2007 7:19 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I have mixed feelings about this because I wonder if we are all so self-removed from our daily lives to see what it would be like to want to commit suicide...still, democracy means we talk about it and make a decision. Are we qualified though given the above? I wonder sometimes....

7/26/2007 7:38 PM  
Anonymous went to the meeting said...

good point sara. the meeting last night was great. very informative and well done by caltrans and the glendon association- they really seem like they want community input. they had comment sheets, a court reporter who would take down your questions and comments, and they gave out the email, phone and address of the man in charge at caltrans.

it was also made abundantly clear who your anon "highly-respected environmentalist citizen stringer" is. he lost a lot of the aformentioned respect from all in the room when he completely came unhinged in public comment, basically opining and taking none of what was presented into account.

when the caltrans emcee asked at the end for a show of hands of folks who supported it, the room of about 70 people was overwhelmingly in support. when he asked for a show of opposition, only two (including the agitated dissenter) raised their hands.

kudos to caltrans for open process, to glendon for enlightening us on a painful issue, and to santa barbarans (minus one) for listening and letting reason prevail.

7/26/2007 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, was there and, although not one of those two mentioned, thought that it was two issues, one, suicide - and two, a jump-off barrier on the
bridge. The informational meeting was almost entirely about suicide --- and almost not at all about what would be appropriate design for a historic bridge. (Lots of repetition that the barrier must be 6 feet high, leaning inwards.)

We all find suicide sad - so we're all in agreement on that, except, perhaps, for those cases of rational choice. Yes, suicide can be a rational choice. I had a very good friend who so chose - and it saddened me greatly and he and I talked for weeks beforehand, but, it was his choice and he chose. I disbelieve their statements that nearly all suicides are impulse-driven, although agree that a barrier on a bridge would deter a jump from there.

Much of last evening's presentation was about suicide and it tended to put those who think there is a valid issue of aesthetics into a bad-person camp: if you have any questions about this barrier, you're clearly wrong seemed to be the attitude of many in the audience. That weighted atmosphere was not encouraging for me to stand up and so I didn't.

Different issue entirely, of course, but it reminded a little of the pre-Iraq war atmosphere: why is it so many good people can be so blind to their own closed minds, unwilling to even hear there is more to be heard. (True, the yaddayadda who spoke did, imo, a very poor job of convincing anyone to listen to him.)

CalTrans recognized that there has to be an EIR and they must consider aesthetics. Even so, I would have had much more respect had the committee whose reps. filled the room included any from the design and historic preservationist groups. Could well be that these people, too, would support a barrier --- but probably none of those *ugly* ones shown.

I had hoped it would be a presentation of all the issues. It was not. Too bad.

---
Btw, there has been so much outcry against the $12,000 the City of SB will spend on the light blue line, with so many saying it could be used much better directly for the youth (as though educating as will the line on global issues - and on public disagreements! - is not for the youth.) Here is a $650,000 project that will stop, they say, an average of 1 death/year (since 1963) from that bridge, while in four months, two youths have died on SB streets. Think how much more could be done with that $650K; why not the outcry over this?!

7/26/2007 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the evidence from the Bloor Street Viaduct on reduction of suicides on that structure due to its fence, as well as the opinions of Golden Gate Bridge jumpers who survived are rather conclusive that barriers do save lives.

7/27/2007 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:13, yes, barriers do save lives - but at what cost?

To truly save lives - and many lives, at that - speed limiters should be required on all cars along with alcohol snifter-ignition locks. I think the CHP and all involved in highway rescue efforts would support such measures.

We as a society have chosen to say that personal liberty is worth more than the costs of thousands of alcohol and speed-related deaths and disabling injuries.

As for the bridge: There has to be a balancing. There are differing interests. Not all agree that saving one human life (from the willful act of one who wishes to end it) is worth throwing away the aesthetic qualities of that bridge, including the aesthetic quality of life for those who cross the bridge.

The greatest argument in favor of the barriers, which certainly will save some lives, were the voices of the CHP who have to do the recoveries.

Even so, aesthetics of the barriers must be discussed. Perhaps there are ways to install barriers that do not remove the views, do not detract from the bridge. It is good there is a year-long EIR process ahead where, hopefully, they will carefully study alternatives, keeping in mind this is an historic structure on a state-designated scenic highway.

I suspect most would agree that individual liberty is subordinate to the greater good of society. However, in this bridge barrier discussion the other evening, curbing individual liberty (to kill oneself) took precedence over the rights of the whole for aesthetics. Interesting!

It's possible had the issue been reframed like that, the room, packed with Glendon supporters, would still have been as it was, there not wanting, some refusing to listen for anything they hadn't heard before; but, I at least would have liked to have heard that discussion.

I felt that the suicide prevention advocates had hijacked this meeting to present their point of view --- after all, who could disagree with the need to try to prevent suicide, especially of the youth! Not I; not, I think, anyone in that room.

BUT: This was supposed to have been an informational meeting about CalTrans and the bridge. It was not or at least not primarily: instead it was an informational meeting about suicide, including the interesting film about the guy who jumped off the Golden Gate and survived, etc. and only very secondarily about details of what can be done about the bridge.

I trust those issues, very important to this Santa Barbara area community as well as to the state as a whole will be part of the EIR.



...
Although I shall remain anonymous, in interests of full disclosure I'll note that I had a friend who killed himself years ago near that bridge. Instead of walking onto the span, however, he chose to jump from the rocks before it and probably is part of the statistics unless his death was called an accident. How far will the barrier extend? ...

7/27/2007 8:58 AM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

To Anonymous @12:11--

I and many others who are insisting on a careful, comprehensive and fact-based evalation by CalTrans and other public officials of this proposal would be grateful if you would share your expertise and inormation with all concerned.

I am referring to that part of your message which read:

[D]espite the claims in the studies cited during the presentation, there is no solid evidence that such barriers actually save lives.

I'm happy to expand on the flaws in the studies cited in previous literature if anyone is interested, but the basic story is that we're rushing to a decision based in part on faulty information.

7/27/2007 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to hear a meeting went so well. I haven't heard all the pro-con, it is good to hear compassion prevailed.

It takes thought to go to a bridge, those who are determined... won't they decide on another place, another way? Is the issue #1 what to do about the bridge that attracts this problem? I'm grateful the subject of suicide has a forum. I don't know enough about what this barrier really saves.

Jumping from a bridge is usually a lone act, no one else is put in danger. Alternative methods of suicide, like while driving crazy, put more life at risk.

Were the people who survived serious attempts at suicide speaking at the meeting?

7/27/2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 11:09: While there definitly is a gang and violence issue in our community and it deserves close attention and action, it might interest you to know that the suicide rate in this county is far greater than the homicide rate. I also heard comments that the money should be used to make the roads safer. The rate of death for car accidents and the rate of death for suicide in this county are almost equal so I'd say that trying to reduce suicides is as important as reducing motor vehicle accident deaths. These statistics are avilable on-line.

7/27/2007 1:11 PM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

The person who posted above as Anonymous @12:11 states that s/he "holds a PhD in social science statistics" and that "despite the claims in the studies cited during the presentation, there is no solid evidence that such barriers actually save lives. I'm happy to expand on the flaws in the studies cited in previous literature if anyone is interested, but the basic story is that we're rushing to a decision based in part on faulty information.

I am certain that CalTrans, elected public officials, and the rest of us would benefit from the information that is being offered. What is needed is a careful, comprehensive and fact-based evaluation of the merits of this proposal rather than the kind of high-pressure "sales job" that CalTrans attempted to get away with on Wednesday.

Please, sir or madam, provide us all with the benefits of your expertise and information.

Remember this: If CalTrans and certain elected officials had had their way, there would now be an elevated freeway running through and beyond the downtown area of Santa Barbara. We prevented this because we knew it would be a costly mistake, and to me (who was among those who confronted CalTrans then) it looks like CalTrans failed to learn how we expect them to behave themselves in our community.

7/27/2007 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7/27/2007 1:11 PM said that the number of suicides/year are the same as the number of road deaths/year and that the statistics are available online.

Would you give a URL, please? I did a google search "number of road deaths in Santa Barbara County" and did not come up with anything. (And of course it isn't the number of suicides/year in the County that's at issue, but the approx. 1/year who suicides off the bridge.)

No doubt but that we should make efforts to deter that one person, but it is important, imo, to study the various means and methods.

7/27/2007 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One must wonder what motivates such an overabundance of outrage directed against a plan to put up a barrier to prevent suicides.

Then again, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

7/27/2007 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a good look at outrage, Anonymous 7:55, I suggest that you take a look at yourself in the mirror.

Has it occured to you that the views of those who disagree with you are worthy of respect?

7/27/2007 9:17 PM  
Anonymous anon 755 said...

Respect, 9:17pm is one thing. But no, not when the "views of those who disagree" are expressed in a rude, arrogant, self-righteous manner in a way that discounts the very deliberate, detailed, thoughtful work that has gone into this project by a variety of experts in the field of mental health.

I sat in that well-publicized public hearing and saw the show of hands that revealed 70+ people in favor of this project and TWO opposed. And when one of the two is clearly driven by resentment at Cal-Trans and at government in general for other reasons, and is willing to hold up a project designed to save lives no I have no respect for that.

The only thing that could have added more insult to injury would have been the clownish wearing of stilts into that public hearing.

7/28/2007 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:10, so, okay, you didn't like hearing any opposition, so kill the messenger or attempt to kill the messenger, but what about the message? We get it that you didn't like yaddayadda (okay, Sara?)

But what about his message or at least the message of other opponents of this process.

That message is that bridge is a thing of beauty, an historic structure, that anything that may be constructed on it that will detract from the views from that bridge and the beauty of that bridge should be very carefully considered, with all the options presented to the people of Santa Barbara County.

The informational meeting presented the purpose: to deter suicide. Most of us at that meeting agreed with the purpose. (I don't know where you got the "70+" count. There was not an actual count made/hands were raised very briefly --- and from where I was sitting, in the back, looking towards the hands raised, yes, a majority, probably, were supportive of there being a suicide prevention barrier or something that would deter suicides, but there were a lot of people who did not raise their hands for either vote. If I were guessing, I'd say maybe 30 raised their hands, a generous guess.)

So we agreed generally upon the purpose. There should be another informational meeting on the means, that is, the various possible barriers that could be used and the effects they would have on the views - and on suicides, of course, too.

Given CAD, PowerPoint and the internet, it should be not too difficult to put together such a presentation of what's being done on bridges around the world. And there should be an informational presentation on that where we can see pictures of each of the barriers and discuss. AND also, but not only, have the choices posted on the Web site.

...This should have been part of that meeting last week --- and, thinking that it would be, it is why I went. Wasted opportunity. Pity - but it is not too late to do that, especially since there has to be an EIR that if it is a competent EIR will discuss ALL the alternatives.

7/28/2007 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think those who jump off bridges are rationally exercising a free choice to die. There are people who do exercise free choice to die, and they usually are extremely scrupulous about wrapping up their affairs in great thoroughness, down to making their body easy to tranport and making funeral arrangements.

Jumping off a bridge is a passionate and very public statement. I think those who do so are responding to true illness, and it is right to build barriers on those bridges that invite them, including the Golden Gate and Cold Springs. The Bloor Street Viaduct barrier has been a success in Canada.

As for preserving views and asthetics... I'd rather do that on hiking trails where gazing at the view has no danger of causing an accident at 65 mph.

7/28/2007 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you cross the spectacular Cold Spring Canyon Bridge going 65 mph, Anon 5:54, you are going 10 mph over the speed limit. Just like the folks at CalTrans and the public officials who are trying to hurry this proposal along, you need to slow down and proceed with greater care.

7/30/2007 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @12:11 here. As requested, I'll expand a bit on why the studies presented on Wednesday don't prove that suicide barriers on bridges save lives.

The most common type of study demonstrates that when you but a barrier up on a bridge, the number of suicides at that bridge drops to 0. However, this doesn't prove that this saves lives, since we don't know what happened to those that would have jumped off the bridge if the barrier had not been there. That is, we might just be moving suicides to another location, or perhaps even leading people to adopt another method of suicide. We should be looking at overall suicide rates, not suicides at a specific location.

A few studies have tried to deal with this --- for instance, one study showed that when barriers went up at the Duke Ellington Bridge in DC, the number of suicides at the nearby Taft Bridge did not increase. Good, but is the Taft Bridge the only alternative suicide site or method? Did the suicide rate in DC decline for some unrelated reasons, such as an improving economy or changing demographics? Did the suicide rate even change at all? This remains unknown.

The last study I'll mention is the Seiden study, which tracked a number of people prevented from jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge, and showed that only around 10% went on to commit suicide. This study is widely cited as proof that a barrier would save lives, but we have a huge self-selection problem here --- did these people really intend to commit suicide, or did they simply pretend they were going to kill themselves in order to get help? In other words, we might be counting these people as "saved" when they never intended to die in the first place.

Thus, we actually have no idea if a suicide barrier on the Cold Spring Bridge would save lives. In response to what I heard at the meeting on Wednesday, I'm now conducting a large-scale statistical study to answer the question on whether suicide barriers save lives. I will make this publicly available as soon as I finish, which should hopefully be before August 8th. I guess I won't be anonymous then, but I think this is important enough to risk unpopularity in some circles...

7/30/2007 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not close the bridge and take it down?

7/30/2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7/30 7:33am, go back and read Anon 7/28 5:54pm carefully. They never said they were driving across the bridge at all, they merely pointed out that gazing at the view could cause an accident at 65mph. That is, some people do drive across the bridge at 65mph (violating the law) and they are at risk if they gaze at the view.

However, those driving at 55mph also risk accidents if they gaze at the view. The conclusion is that we should not be overly concerned with the view on high-speed roadways, and it would be a better deployment of effort to be concerned about views on thoroughfares where gazing at the view brings little risk, like, roads with sidewalks and hiking trails.

Anon 7/30 10:12 am, I think you exaggerate when you say,
``Thus, we actually have no idea if a suicide barrier on the Cold Spring Bridge would save lives.''

The studies you quote indicate that there is reasonable but not air-tight support for the conclusion that the barrier would save lives.

As for your own studies, I'm sure it will be possible to pick them apart in much the same way as you pick apart the pro-barrier studies. In particular, how will you separate out random, seasonal, weather, economic, age, sex, drug use, gun-availability, etc, effects, that will confound any attempt to attribute an effect to presence/absence of a barrier?

I thought Golden Gate jump survivors had been systematically interviewed too, and there is no doubt that they really intended suicide. And I thought survivors strongly indicated that a barrier would have helped save their lives.

BTW, odd that no-one has mentioned the train tracks. Talk about a source of death around here, both suicidal and accidental.

7/30/2007 9:54 PM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

Thank you, Anonymous @ 12:11 !

7/30/2007 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 12:11 again, responding to Anonymous @9:54pm.

>>"The studies you quote indicate that there is reasonable but not air-tight support for the conclusion that the barrier would save lives."

These studies provide strong evidence that we can prevent suicides in a particular location. However, they don't actually address the question of whether this saves lives. Nobody has yet demonstrated that barriers reduce the suicide rate, which is what we'd need to know in order to say suicide barriers save lives.


>>"As for your own studies, I'm sure it will be possible to pick them apart in much the same way as you pick apart the pro-barrier studies. In particular, how will you separate out random, seasonal, weather, economic, age, sex, drug use, gun-availability, etc, effects, that will confound any attempt to attribute an effect to presence/absence of a barrier?"

All fair points, and no doubt people will find much to criticize with my study. However, nobody to date has conducted a proper study of whether suicide barriers actually reduce the suicide rate, so even an imperfect first cut at the problem will be useful. I would be happy if other researchers came along and improved on my work, and in the meantime sparked a serious discussion about how to judge the effectiveness of suicide barriers.

As far as controlling for those factors you mentioned, my intention is to gather data on unemployment, divorce rates, demographics, and so on, and account for these factors as well as the presence/absence of barriers when studying changes in the suicide rate over time. Again, I'm sure some data will be unavailable and I'll inadvertently leave some things out, but if others come along after me and improve the study, we'll start to get a clear idea of whether these barriers will actually save lives.


>>"I thought Golden Gate jump survivors had been systematically interviewed too, and there is no doubt that they really intended suicide. And I thought survivors strongly indicated that a barrier would have helped save their lives."

Yes, this is the Seiden study I mentioned above. These people didn't actually survive the jump (only a few ever have) --- they were talked out of jumping, leading to the self-selection concerns I expressed above --- that is, despite what they say, they may never have intended to jump in the first place.

7/31/2007 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barrier Supporter who is a GG Bridge Jump Survivor

He's not the only one. Another made a number of comments in 1988 when Sarah Birnbaum jumped twice. (Survived the first, died on her second GG Bridge jump).

7/31/2007 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jumpers, by Tad Friend documents 3 survivors, two of whom support barriers, the third of whom jumped twice, and most likely would have been prevented by a barrier.

Tad Friend states that it survivors regret their jumps as soon as they jump in his NPR Interview.

Seiden's study of 515 people who had been stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate between 1937 and 1973 indicated that 94% of them were survived 26 years or more, or died of natural causes. Other studies support Seiden's study. While not airtight, these studies are strong evidence in support of barriers.

The Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, and bridge near the Sydney Opera house all have barriers.

The Golden Gate Bridge has about 50 suicides a year, out of about 800 per year in the Bay Area. The yearly flucuations on the 800 total in the Bay Area are so large that it is probably impossible to detect a decrease due to stopping the 50 off the Bridge. And no structure attracts as many jumpers as the Golden Gate Bridge, so I doubt one can ever meaningfully probe an effect on suicide rate by studying total suicide rates.

BTW, concerning the Golden Gate: it already has an ugly barrier on its southern portion, to prevent people from dropping junk on walkers near Fort Point. No-one complains about that barrier.

8/01/2007 7:09 AM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

Anonymous 7:09 states that "Other studies support Seiden's study" and this statement is keyed to take the reader to http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/40/7/21

What you find there is not a study or a reference to any other study(ies) that would support the Seiden study that has already been shown by a PhD in social sciences statistics previously in this discussion to NOT support the position of the proponents of the proposal( see Anon 12:11, 10:12 and 5:21) .

Take a look for yourself.

Is this just carelessness or an attempt to mislead?

In any event, it has now become very clear that CalTrans has jumped to an unwarranted, arbitrary and capricious decision to process this proposal on an urgency basis. Public officials who have so far backed the proposal need now to back off and insist that the hundreds of thousands (possibly more) of dollars of public monies not be devoted to this proposal without legitmate proof of its justification.

As of now it looks as if CalTrans is acting outside the rules of public accountability imposed upon it by law.

I wonder if it will take a judge to instruct CalTrans as to its duties in this matter or whether the public officials who have been boosters of the proposal so far will now have the gumption to let CalTrans know that it and they were mistaken.

8/01/2007 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @12:11 again:

>>"Jumpers, by Tad Friend documents 3 survivors, two of whom support barriers, the third of whom jumped twice, and most likely would have been prevented by a barrier.

Tad Friend states that it survivors regret their jumps as soon as they jump in his NPR Interview."

I absolutely believe they regretted their jump. However, if we put up a barrier on one bridge and keep people from jumping there, how do we know that we don't have people regretting a jump from somewhere else?

>>"Seiden's study of 515 people who had been stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate between 1937 and 1973 indicated that 94% of them were survived 26 years or more, or died of natural causes. Other studies support Seiden's study. While not airtight, these studies are strong evidence in support of barriers."

Seiden's study doesn't really address the question of whether suicide barriers save lives. Given how easy it would be to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge without anyone stopping them, we must wonder if the people in Seiden's study actually intended to kill themselves.

>>"The Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, and bridge near the Sydney Opera house all have barriers."

True, but do they save lives?

>>"The Golden Gate Bridge has about 50 suicides a year, out of about 800 per year in the Bay Area. The yearly flucuations on the 800 total in the Bay Area are so large that it is probably impossible to detect a decrease due to stopping the 50 off the Bridge. And no structure attracts as many jumpers as the Golden Gate Bridge, so I doubt one can ever meaningfully probe an effect on suicide rate by studying total suicide rates."

This is a really good point, and something I've been worrying about.

The basic problem is this: we build a barrier on a bridge in year 1. What happens to someone that has a suicidal crisis in year 2 that would have jumped off the bridge if there was no barrier? Does the presence of the barrier lead them to choose to live, or do they simply take their own lives in some other way? If they choose to live, the barrier is saving lives. The only way I can think of to observe this is through a decrease in the suicide rate.

However, as you pointed out, the number of suicides by jumping from a particular location is small compared to the total number of suicides in the surrounding geographic location, which means that the influence (or lack of influence) of the barrier on the suicide rate will be difficult to detect. However, if there is a real effect, we will be able to detect it given enough data.

Of course, we face the troubling possibility that there won't be enough data to clearly discern the effect of suicide barriers on the suicide rate, which (given the problems with other approaches) might mean that it is impossible for us to know if these barriers save lives.

>>"BTW, concerning the Golden Gate: it already has an ugly barrier on its southern portion, to prevent people from dropping junk on walkers near Fort Point. No-one complains about that barrier."

I think this barrier gets few complaints because (1) people view it as a safety issue for the people below, much like suicide barriers on tall buildings in urban areas, and (2) the view is nicer in the middle of the bridge.

8/02/2007 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marcmcguinness...

The article that was linked says:

Seiden's findings are supported by clinical experience with patients who are brought to treatment in the city's hospitals after being talked down or after calling for help from a hotline on the bridge.

"Most of these suicide attempts are temporary, acute reactions to overwhelming pain," said Blaustein. "People don't often go on to commit suicide somewhere else."

1:02am:

You say

''I absolutely believe they regretted their jump. However, if we put up a barrier on one bridge and keep people from jumping there, how do we know that we don't have people regretting a jump from somewhere else?''

We do know that the two survivors support barriers. We know that the third GG Bridge jumper, who perished in his second jump, used the notoriety of the location to try to get publicity, so a barrier at the GG Bridge (and at all high-notoriety spots) would in all likelihood his life would have been saved by a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Concerning Seiden's study of 515 people who were stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge; what we know is that 94% of them did not subsequently go to another location and commit suicide. I think it is likely that the majority of the 515 were intending to die when they were on the bridge, and the fact that only 6% subsequently committed suicide represents strong evidence against the claim that suicidal people are strongly intent on killing themselves by whatever means necessary. Add this to the fact that 2 survivors support barriers and I feel the evidence is compelling, but not air-tight.

I do think that it will prove impossible to test any claim about total suicide rates being influenced by barriers.

I thought the view from the Eiffel Tower was fine, even though there were barriers. And I think suicide prevention is as important a public safety issue as is the dropping of junk on Fort Point visitor's heads.

As far as I know, our Cold Springs bridge is not open to pedestrians, and anyone gazing at the view while going 55mph and not focusing on the road would be well issued a ticket for careless driving.

8/02/2007 11:00 AM  
Anonymous dollybird said...

marcmcguinnes...

the article you mention has a link to:

http://www.pfnc.org/PFNC-GGBSeidenArticle4.pdf

which is actually the Seiden article. In it there are references to other studies, in particular studies of the substantial decline in British suicide rates after the change from coke-based gas to natural gas for domestic uses.

The idea is that people who find one method of suicide unavailable *do not* successfully find an alternative method. Both the British coke-based gas effect and Seiden support that idea.

8/02/2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea is that people who find one method of suicide unavailable *do not* successfully find an alternative method.

=======

Why not?

8/02/2007 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:56pm - good question. The data says that they don't, the rest is more speculative than data.

Blaustein above argues that most suicide is an acute problem; if suicidal people can't commit suicide at the moment of acute distress, they usually give up on suicide.

Surely there are people who do pursue suicide tenaciously, and will find an alternate means. The data suggests that those people are a minority of suicidal folks.

8/03/2007 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so we put up a barrier on CS Bridge.... One day a person, finally at the end of their rope (pun not intended) decides that they want to end their life. The first thought that comes to their mind is to jump off CS bridge. But then they remember that the bridge has a suicide barrier. Are they going to go "oh, I can't do that, so I guess I won't kill myself"... or will they find another way?

8/03/2007 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the data is silent on this point. We know that suicide barriers prevent people from jumping from a particular site, but as pointed out above, there is no evidence that they don't jump somewhere else, or take their lives in a different way.

That, plus the lack of a theory explaining how a suicide barrier might save lives, means that we really have no idea what effect a suicide barrier will have.

8/03/2007 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article on suicide in Britain

This article seems to accept the viewpoint that causing a decline in one method of suicide (mentioned are aspirin overdose, head in oven, and car exhaust) will indeed case a decline in overall suicide rates, and even suggests that just these changes have caused a decline in British suicide rates.

8/03/2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is evidence that denial of a specific method of suicide does indeed reduce the rate of suicides. The evidence comes from Britain, where coke-based cooking gas was changed to natural gas and where aspirin purchases were restricted in quantity, and suicide rates have fallen.

Which means that folks who were trying to kill themselves by putting their heads in ovens or by aspirin ODs did *not* successfully find alternate means of suicide; instead, they decided to live. Those methods of suicide are more frequent than jumping from heights.

The theory of why a barrier saves lives is: a person feels acute distress and visits the Cold Springs bridge. They find there is a barrier. They go home and the acute distress passes. They then either give up on suicide, or seek help, and they don't end up a suicide.

The Seiden paper, linked above, does supply good support for this theory, as do the survivors of Golden Gate Bridge jumps who support barriers. No study or evidence is ever airtight.

But adding together the Seiden paper, the support of GG Bridge Survivors, and the statistical evidence from the declines in British suicide rates correlated with the reduction in coke-based cooking gas and the reduction in the number of aspirins available in a purchase, the evidence is quite strong that suicide is an acute problem that passes when a particular crisis is weathered.

8/03/2007 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Greg Mohr said...

Last weekend I sent the following comments to Caltrans; a friend and colleague suggested posting them here for others to see:

04 August 2007

I'm sorry not to have been able to attend the informational meeting in Santa Barbara on 25 July 2007. I've reviewed the PowerPoint presentation (May 2007) posted on the project website, and have gathered much information about the proposal from other sources, including news reports from the 25 July meeting.

Despite all of my efforts to gather information, I'm still unsure of the exact purpose of the 25 July meeting. I had assumed it was a scoping meeting to gather input as to the potentially significant adverse impacts associated with a specific proposed suicide prevention barrier; however, all of my sources, including the PowerPoint presentation posted on the Caltrans website, lead me to believe otherwise. It seems more likely that the 25 July meeting was intended to "sell" the concept of a physical suicide prevention barrier, presumably a curved-over-the-deck fence of some sort.

At this time, I must assume that the proposed or preferred project is a physical barrier, most likely one rising above the bridge's sides and curving to some extent over the deck. In this case, Caltrans has no option under CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines other than to prepare an EIR and, if federal highway funds are involved, a combined EIR-EIS, which would examine the potentially significant adverse impacts of the preferred project design and various feasible alternatives. The most obvious potentially significant adverse effects are related to visual aesthetics and historic resources. As required by CEQA and possibly NEPA, the examined alternatives must address those that could avoid or reduce potentially significant adverse impacts while meeting the basic project objectives. Such an examination of alternatives would not be possible under a negative declaration (ND) or combined ND-EA/FONSI.

In any case, the obvious potentially significant adverse impacts would preclude the latter level(s) of environmental review, regardless of the alleged benefits of the project.

Please contact me directly if you have any questions or need more information.

Sincerely,

Gregory Mohr
Former Planner and Environmental Specialist, Santa Barbara County (January 1979-May 2007)
Santa Barbara, CA

8/10/2007 1:54 PM  
Anonymous marcmcginnes said...

To Anonymous 12;11, etc:

I hope that you are making good progess in carrying out the study you have referred to in your posts. I and many, many others are grateful to you for undertaking this very important work.

Is it possible to give us an idea of how the work is going and when you might be in a position to share the information?

Incidentally, a UCSB professor who has read both the Seiden study and your comments about it on this site informs me that you are correct in your statement that " we actually have no idea if a suicide barrier on the Cold Spring Bridge would save lives."

Looking forward to having your further valuable input to this decision-making process.

8/14/2007 5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marcmcginnes...

I think we do know that the change from coke-type gas in ovens to natural gas in the UK definitely did save lives.

The suicidal in the UK who failed by putting their head in an oven did *not* successfully find alternate means of suicide.

From that result it is reasonable to conclude that a barrier on Cold Springs would result in saved lives.

I think saying we have `no idea' is too strong. We have some idea, but not conclusive proof, whatever your UCSB professor says.

8/16/2007 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous@12:11 here again.

Sorry not to post for so long. My study is complete, and I will make it public this week (obviously, I'll no longer be anonymous at that point).

My study did benefit from the comments I read here, so thank you to everyone involved in the discussion. In particular, I incorporated the research on the domestic gas suicides in the UK mentioned by another reader (as it turns out, these studies have a serious flaw).

Long story short: after an extensive review of the literature and conducting my own statistical research, I could find no evidence that suicide prevention barriers save lives.

If you like, I can post a link to my report once it goes up on the web.

9/17/2007 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://sbdailysound.blogspot.com/2007/09/forum-addresses-prevalence-of-suicide.html

BTW, 11:20pm, there is a serious flaw in your study: you proved what you set out to prove.

9/19/2007 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous 12:11!

Please do post a link so that the many people concerned about this issue can read it.

Perhaps Sara will be willing to start a new conversation that can incorporate what has been said so far and go forward in light of what your study discloses and what folks think about it.

Marc McGinnes

9/19/2007 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:38am, I hadn't even heard about that forum -- sorry I missed it.

As far as your characterization of my research, it strikes me as very unfair. You're attributing a motive to me when you've never met me, and you haven't seen my study.

9/19/2007 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but I've read your blog postings for a while. I didn't say your research was worthless, it just has one serious flaw: you set out to support your initial viewpoint.

9/20/2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the study??

If so, it is not convincing at all. Raising questions is not the same as proving there is something wrong... for example, concerning the Seiden study of Golden Gate Bridge suicidal folks, the Glasgow study raises a good question... *perhaps* selection bias influenced Seiden's study. But the Glasgow paper doesn't lift a finger to *prove* that the Seiden results are wrong.

Pointing out a possible flaw is not the same as proving that the flaw is present and important. Glasgow simply did not do the work to show that Seiden is wrong.

Concerning the UK switch from coke-based gas to natural gas... again, Glasgow asserts that other variables were not controlled, but Glasgow does not name what those other variables are, nor does Glasgow perform a statistical analysis to prove that the UK decline in suicides was due to a different factor.

So sorry... the Glasgow paper produces little light and a lot of heat. Even its central claim... that suicide rate seems to have a negative correlation with number of dangerous bridges... seems to have overlooked the simplest and most important variable... did the dangerous bridges have suicide barriers?

9/24/2007 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Garrett Glasgow here.

Something tells me you're in no mood to be convinced, but let me try anyway:

The point of the study was not to prove suicide barriers don't work, it was to demonstrate that there is no evidence that they do work. Even many of the studies cited by Caltrans explicitly say they do not prove that suicide prevention barriers save lives, as I point out in my report.

On the Seiden study, read the second paragraph criticizing it. There's no need to prove selection bias, as Seiden's study doesn't address the questions of displacement and substitution.

On the UK gas studies, note that by the same standard used by these studies this report proves that bridges prevent suicides (footnote 13). As far as omitted variables, how about economic conditions -- I show this eliminates the apparent relationship between bridges and suicides when I include it in the regression.

As for your last point, see footnote 14 in the study. If the negative relationship between bridges and suicides is due to suicide barriers, why is there a *positive* relationship between the rate of suicide *by jumping* and the number of bridges?

But like I said, I doubt there's anything I can say that would convince the activists to give up on this project.

9/25/2007 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something tells me you are in no mood to address shortcomings in your work, but let me try anyway.

Where is the proof that Seiden's studies lack of study of displacement and substitution invalidates Seiden's work?

Where is the proof that economic conditions in the UK explain the decline in suicides contemporaneous with the switch from coke-based to natural gas.

Why not directly address how many of your bridges had suicide barriers instead of a convoluted relationship in a footnote on a different subject?

Like I said, I doubt there is anything I can say to convince you to turn the same skeptical eye you cast toward other's work on your own work.

9/26/2007 11:01 AM  

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