19 May 2009

Bridge barrier removal resulted in deaths, says study

6:45 am on 19 May 2009

A report claims the removal of safety barriers from an Auckland bridge notorious for suicides may have resulted in 14 preventable deaths.

Barriers were installed on Grafton Bridge in 1937 to stop people jumping from the bridge, but were taken down for aesthetic reasons in 1996 at the request of the city council.

A joint study by Otago and Yale universities says there was a five-fold increase in suicides until the barriers were replaced in 2003.

One of the researchers, Professor David Fergusson, says mental health advocates who alerted the council to the problem were ignored.

He says there now needs to be some acknowledgment that a serious mistake was made.