Tay Road Bridge chiefs have pledged to tackle the rising number of emergency incidents reported on the crossing after admitting they are “nowhere near where we need to be” on the issue.
Data analysis taken from the bridge’s official twitter account shows an annual rise in reports of police call outs, from 21 in 2016, 23 in 2017, to a peak of 28 this year.
Many of the closures are due to people attempting to harm themselves on the span.
Officials pledged at the start of 2018 to probe whether anything could be done to reduce the number of incidents on the route after campaigners pointed to similar efforts being made in cities around the world.
Stewart Hunter, chairman of the road bridge board, revealed his team have looked at ways of making physical alterations to the crossing but found no structural change could be made without compromising its integrity.
He said: “From my point of view, one person on the bridge is one too many so any trend showing the numbers increasing would be worrying. However, even if it was decreasing, I would still be concerned for those individuals.
“There are a number of reasons why the numbers have increased and mental health is part of it. I think it would be irresponsible to focus on one aspect and ignore others.
“The Scottish Government, Dundee City Council and our partners are working hard to tackle this issue and make sure the people who need help get it. But obviously, there is still a long way to go and we are nowhere near where we need to be.
“As far as what is the best way to tackle the increase, we need to make sure that individuals have all the support they need long before it gets to the stage where they are on the bridge. That is where we will actually make the difference.”
Mr Hunter paid tribute to the “unsung heroes” working on the bridge who respond immediately when emergency incidents are reported.
Figures obtained from the twitter account show motorists were subjected to 132 days of disruption on the bridge this year for police and other incidents, such as roadworks, breakdowns and closures due to high winds.
It appears March’s Beast from the East weather disruption had a significant impact on traffic with the month seeing 18 days impacted by delays, more than any other in 2018.
Mr Hunter said: “We have a planned programme of maintenance and the increase this year is just about where we are in the maintenance cycle. The bridge is inspected regularly and any issues found are fixed very quickly.”
On it, she has told of her own experiences and has also invited other women to share their own.
It was during her time at the psychiatric care unit that she decided the “taboo” subject of mental health was something she wanted to tackle.
And she says her main focus is not only to help herself but to provide a platform for other women to share their experiences.
Mandy said many looking from the outside would have thought she was living a dream life.
She added: “If you looked through my social media, people probably thought I was leading the picture perfect life.
“I was married, working and had a great social group of friends.”
However, after a series of personal misfortunes, things took a turn for the worse. “My marriage had broken down and there had been an arson attempt at the block of flats where I was living in Dunblane,” she said.
“My life probably started to go on a downward spiral from there.
“I stopped showing up to work and I decided I needed a new start.”
Mandy enrolled on a personal trainer course last August at Dundee and Angus College.
She said: “I don’t think I really dealt with the two issues I’d faced in Dunblane.
“Fast forward to March this year and I was prepping for a body building show, doing my course work and it fell apart – I tried to kill myself.”
Mandy said she remembers running towards the Tay Road Bridge before being stopped by a jogger.
She added: “There was so much going on in my head. I almost felt embarrassed at the time to speak out and share my experiences – I just wanted to disappear.
“I don’t remember much, I just remember frantically running towards the bridge and a man spoke to me before the police arrived.
“I was admitted to Carseview – I don’t remember the first three days at the centre.
“I can’t thank NHS Tayside enough. The help I got there has changed my life and I was really supported by the community health team when I came out.
“Although this all happened to me in Dundee I didn’t want to leave as I felt the city had been good to me.
“I know I’m still on my own journey but I feel like a new woman and believe the Empowered Woman is giving people a platform to speak out. We’ve had women speaking about their battles with issues such as postnatal depression.
“Certainly, in speaking out I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me for the experiences I’d had.
“The project is now there to try to help others and to let them know they are important.”
Mandy said the blog has already been read by thousands of women.
And she hopes The Empowered Woman project could become a long-term career as well as inspiring people to tell their story.
She said: “I nearly wasn’t here so now I feel I need to use my voice to help others.”
*If you feel suicidal, or need someone to talk to, volunteers at the Samaritans can help. Contact their freephone number 116123, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
He said: “We are currently undertaking research looking at what methods are used elsewhere to stop this happening.
“We are aware other cities have adopted methods that have been successful and we are currently monitoring those.”
Mr Hunter said that in the meantime there are CCTV cameras at locations along the bridge which are monitored 24 hours a day.
Mr Hunter said: “There are trained people who monitor these cameras.
“They are obviously looking out for road traffic incidents, but they are all also trained to be on the lookout for anyone walking along the bridge who may give cause for concern.
“They work closely with the police who are contacted immediately and get involved straight away.”
Mr Hunter said both the board and the local authority are also keen to be proactive in helping people who may have depression or other mental health issues, and engage with them before they consider ending their lives.
Cities around the world have explored various ways to prevent deaths at locations such as bridges and train stations.
Last year officials in San Francisco installed a net beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, while in Ann Arbor, Michigan, steel fences are being installed on top of multi-storey car parks. And, in 2015, Network Rail bosses announced that following a record number of rail suicides in 2013, they were installing blue LED lights at some train stations.
This initiative has proved successful in Japan, where it is thought the coloured lights create a sense of peace and calm.
A spokesman for the Broughty Ferry lifeboat said crews have been called out 19 times to assist police with concerns for someone on or around the bridge in the past year.
The spokesman said: “The majority of our call-outs in the past year have been to deal with concern for someone at the bridge.”
He said that on some occasions they have remained on standby, but have also been called upon to remove someone from the water.