Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for action to make the Tay Road Bridge safer for people who are thinking of ending their lives.
An online petition demanding measures are put in place to make it harder for people to consider using the bridge to take their own lives.
The Change.org petition has amassed nearly 400 signatures at time of writing, with a target of 500.
It calls for measures such as barriers to be installed in protect vulnerable people.
Michael Low started the petition after a friend took their own life.
He said: “My personal mission is to take this to the authorities.
“The fact is there needs to be higher fencing or other materials or methods to ensure that the Tay Road Bridge is no longer available in a person’s hour of distress.”
The petition has been backed by Phil Welsh, who lost his son Lee to suicide in August 2017.
Phil said: “The bridge needs to be looked at with the evidence that things like barriers can’t be put in place.
“As well as supporting the petition, I have sent a letter to the bridge board asking about protections on the bridge. I haven’t heard anything back yet.
“We’re just trying to keep the conversation going as much as we can because there’s a lot more that can be done to help people in need.
“We’ve also been campaigning for a 24-hour crisis centre, like in Edinburgh.
“I do think they should look at what can be done at the bridge, with barriers being a big one. If it is the case that they can’t put barriers in place then that’s fine, but I would like to see evidence supporting that.
“All routes should be followed before making a decision.
“The grassroots support should be there to help people before they get to that stage, but there should still be something at the bridge.”
Officials from the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board have examined such measures and ultimately decided it was not feasible to make any substantial changes to the bridge’s structure.
The bridge deck cantilevers — long beams or girders commonly used in bridge construction — would be unable to support additional barriers because of the strain windy weather would put on them, it has been claimed.
Board vice-chairman Jonny Tepp said the bridge management are actively looking at ways to make the bridge safe.
“They do their best to make themselves aware of what action can be taken,” the Liberal Democrat councillor for Tay Bridgehead said.
Dundee City Council also launched an online campaign last month highlighting where people can go for support if they are having suicidal thoughts.
If you need help, or need someone to talk to, a Samaritans volunteers can help.
Contact them on 116 123, or email email@example.com.
It said the key themes were patient access to mental health services, patient sense of safety, quality of care, organisational learning, leadership and governance.
Referring to risk management, the report said: “Patients report telling staff they were suicidal but the risk was not taken seriously until they made a serious attempt to take their own life.”
‘Violated and traumatised’
In relation to patient safety, the report noted: “Some patients report being frightened of certain staff on the wards who have a poor attitude to the patients in their care.
“Others mentioned that another patient had assaulted them whilst they were on the ward.”
The report said the use of restraint within inpatient facilities was of “great concern” to patients, who had experienced it or witnessed it taking place.
It said: “Patients feel violated and traumatised, particularly if they have personally suffered violent abuse in the past.”
It added that staff seemed unable to control the availability and use of illegal drugs on the wards in the inpatient facilities.
“Both patients and families report seeing drugs delivered, sold and taken within the Carseview Centre site,” the report said.
“Staff confirm this is a serious issue which is not being adequately addressed.
“There is a lack of support from management for frontline staff attempting to address this issue and it is having a detrimental effect on patient care and treatment regimes”.
‘Unexpected and concerning’
In a section on the Crisis Service, the report said that the Crisis team “struggles to respond to sudden surges in demand on the service.”
It said: “There are occasions when the length of time to wait to be seen is long and families supporting someone in crisis are advised to phone the police or NHS24, if they are worried.
“This advice is unexpected and concerning to carers coping with a crisis in a domestic situation.”
The report said the centralisation of the out-of-hours Crisis team to Carseview Centre has had a “detrimental effect on those patients in Angus and Perth & Kinross who are experiencing mental health crisis”.
It said: “There is a perception that whilst the Crisis service has expanded in recent months, the situation has worsened in terms of patients being assessed then not being offered any crisis intervention, or referred back to the GP.”
Inquiry chairman David Strang said: “The themes which have been identified will shape the next stage of the inquiry.
“Our final report will include conclusions and recommendations which will lead to the improvement of mental health services in Tayside.”
NHS Tayside chief executive Grant Archibald said: “We are taking on board all comments in the interim report, alongside the feedback we received from the Health and Social Care Alliance (the Alliance) published in their report in December 2018.
“The key themes which have been identified in both the Alliance report and in today’s interim report are recognised by the board and the mental health leadership team – and we are taking action on these.
“I also recognise and want to thank the many staff who are already working really hard to improve services and look forward to their continued support.
“It is clear that we have further work to do but since I came to Tayside, I have made mental health a top priority and I am confident we can learn lessons, strengthen our engagement with patients, service users, families and the public and make the right kinds of changes, at the right time, to transform our mental health services.”
He added: “We would like to thank everyone who has shared their experiences so far and we look forward to the independent inquiry’s final report and recommendations which will be a major influence on the future shape of mental health services in Tayside.”
The organisation has to find £860,000 to balance its budget this year and aims to do this through a combination of cuts and price increases.
The cuts include reducing the resource budget of libraries – the money available for new books and periodicals – and cutting staff numbers through voluntary redundancy and early retirement.
The organisation, which also runs the McManus, Camperdown and Caird Park golf courses and the Olympia Swimming Pool, said it may not replace all departing staff in order to keep costs down.
Sean McNamara, head of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, said cuts to library services can have serious long-term consequences.
He said: “We realise that council services are under severe financial pressure and difficult decisions need to be made.
“However, cuts to resources and staffing can impact on vital services that libraries provide for communities.
“Libraries and their skilled staff help improve literacy levels as well as tackling social isolation and supporting mental health and they also play a key role in the current digital strategy for Scotland by providing free access for people unable to get online at home.
“Any local authority considering cutting budgets must ensure they have fully assessed the long-term impact any cuts may have.
”Labour group leader Kevin Keenan said “slashing the culture budget” was the wrong thing to do when Dundee is trying to promote itself as one of Scotland’s leading cultural destinations.
He said: “Obviously, I am deeply disappointed to hear there is a potential load of job losses.
“When we are trying to attract people and tourists here with things like the V&A, slashing the culture budget does not seem like the thing to do.”
A report to Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee this year revealed that Dundee has the highest percentage of citizens who are library users out of all of the Scottish authorities.
Nine of the 13 libraries showed an increase in visits in 2016-2017.
The Central Library is Scotland’s busiest.
Last year there were concerns cuts could lead to restricted opening times in some city libraries.
A spokesman for Leisure and Culture Dundee said there were currently no plans to reduce opening times.
He said: “There are no changes to opening hours at this time.”
A Tayside musician is helping beat the stigma of mental illness by rapping about his time in a Dundee psychiatric hospital.
Kieran Smart, who studied music production in Perth before being admitted to Carseview, posted a video to social media which detailed his battle against self-harm and hallucinations.
The 23-year-old mentions his feelings of isolation while struggling with his mental health, which led him to spend a total of four months in the unit over the past two years.
He said he hoped the video would encourage more people to seek help sooner, after revealing it took him five years to get treatment.
He said: “It’s an overview of what I was feeling at the time. Now I feel not much different but better – music definitely helps with that. It gives me an outlet – a way to put things down as I’m not really big on speaking to people and this is easier.
“I’ve been writing for ten years and when I came out of Carseview the second time that’s when I recorded my first song.
“I put this video online to help break down the stigma of mental illness. I want to bring awareness to that – I want people to know it’s all right to not be all right.
“It’s a constant reminder for me but I’d rather it helped someone – I hope it would. I’ve been dealing with this since 2012 and I didn’t seek any help until 2017 because I had the idea that being male I had to mask it.”
Mr Smart has also praised staff at the facility at a time when mental health services in Tayside have come under fire, with unit closures in Perthshire and Angus.
He said: “When I first went into Carseview I wanted out as soon as possible because I was in a locked ward but the treatment was really good and the staff were great – they were always willing to talk.”