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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said an interim report into mental health services in Tayside will be published “imminently”.
Responding to questions from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard about the inquiry, Ms Sturgeon said she would expect relatives who campaigned for the inquiry to be given advance copies of the interim report, which is expected to be published this month.
The inquiry was launched following a public campaign by families who blamed poor care at the Carseview Psychiatric Centre at Ninewells Hospital for a series of suicides.
The interim report will be published next week although it will be several months before the full inquiry report is completed.
Mr Leonard told the First Minister that some of the relatives whose campaigning led to the inquiry feel they have not been kept up-to-date with its progress and believe it is not “transparent”.
He said that when the inquiry was set up then health secretary Shona Robison said it should be seen as “a force for good” and asked if Ms Sturgeon believed this aspiration is being met.
Mr Sturgeon said it would be wrong for the Scottish Government to “pre-empt” the inquiry but said its findings would be scrutinised and any recommendations acted upon.
She added: “Of course we want to learn lessons and our sympathies are with the families who have experienced those losses.
“We established an independent inquiry in Tayside. That hasn’t yet reported. I hope it will report soon and it will be fully scrutinised by the government.”
Mr Leonard said Mandy McLaren, the mother of Dundee suicide victim Dale Thomson, has lost confidence in the inquiry.
He said: “She asked me to ask you directly if families will see an advance copy of the interim report before it is published.
“Will you listen to the voices of those families? Will you do what you can do to restore their confidence in this inquiry?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “This inquiry is being led by David Strang. It is an independent inquiry.
“If the government was interfering in the conduct of that inquiry, I am sure Richard Leonard would be raising that in the chamber.
“I understand David Strang has met with family members. It would be full my expectation that an advance copy of the report would go to those directly affected.
“I will pass that specific point to David Strang but I would stress it is an independent inquiry.”
Earlier, Conservative MSP Bill Bowman pressed health secretary Jeane Freeman over plans for a 24-hour crisis centre in Dundee.
Councillor Ken Lynn, the the vice-chairman of Dundee Heath and Social Care Partnership, has pledged his “total commitment” to creating a centre in Dundee, but Ms Freeman the issue had not been raised with her or the minister for mental health, Claire Haughey.
Mr Bowman said later: “It was clear from the cabinet secretary’s answer that the SNP are disconnected from the challenges faced on the ground.
“There seems to be no plans for the new centre in Dundee, or for the government to help NHS Tayside create one.”
GPs in Dundee are now able to prescribe spending time in nature to improve patients’ health and wellbeing as part of a pilot scheme.
A trial programme of “green health prescriptions” will be available from Lochee Health Centre, Whitfield Health Centre and Taybank Medical Centre.
The three Dundee GP practices will discuss with patients if it is appropriate to offer a nature-based intervention as part of their treatment or as a preventative measure.
The activities have been designed by NHS Tayside and will be printed on prescription paper.
NHS Tayside chief executive Grant Archibald said: “There is no doubt there is a strong connection between green space and good mental and physical health. Parks, woodlands and open spaces make a real difference to how happy we feel.
“They also improve our immune system and encourage physical activity and social interaction.”
The Dundee Green Health Partnership (DGHP) will signpost green initiatives and raise awareness about the positive impact that nature can have on people’s health.
The project is a collaboration between NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council, the voluntary sector, Dundee University, Abertay University and local community initiatives.
Neighbourhood services convener, councillor Kevin Cordell, said: “I’m delighted to see a host of key partners coming together with a goal to use our wonderful outdoor spaces to improve physical and mental health.”
A new suicide prevention initiative will be launched in Dundee after findings showed the city has the highest rate of people taking their own lives in Tayside and Fife.
Poverty and welfare reform have been cited as one of several contributing factors in the city, which is infamous for having one of the highest numbers of benefit sanctions in Scotland.
The Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan would bring the city council, NHS, emergency services and specialist mental health services more closely together to work on preventing deaths.
It will be under consultation until April and is expected to be endorsed by the Dundee Integration Joint Board in June.
An investigation carried out between 2013 and 2017 showed 131 people died by suicide in the city in that time.
The rate of 19 per 100,000 population was significantly higher than the Scottish average of 13.5.
Males in Dundee have the second highest mean rate of suicide in Scotland.
A report compiled by the Tayside Multi-Agency Review Group, set up in 2016 to investigate the issue, said: “Scotland continues to have a higher suicide rate than the rest of the UK mainland and there is a strong association between suicide and socio-economic deprivation.
“A number of cases have highlighted the impact of issues around benefits in potentially contributing to local suicide deaths.”
Concerns have also been raised about ambulance staff having no access to mental health records when dealing with emergencies, unlike the police.
Speaking at Tuesday’s Health and Social Care Partnership meeting, the committee’s chair Trudy McLeay said: “I was surprised that the ambulance service don’t have access to mental health records.
“It must be a very difficult situation, especially when dealing with an attempted suicide.”
Common factors identified in Tayside men and women who died by suicide included bereavement, a criminal history, harmful use of alcohol, adverse childhood experiences and physical health problems.
Among men, a significant number were found to have had a record of abuse perpetration, psychotic or organic brain conditions, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, a career history in the military and/or Eastern European ethnicity.
Meanwhile, a common factor specific to women was infertility.
A further report submitted to the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership raised concerns that there may not be enough funding to implement the new plan.
DWP spokesperson said: “Suicide is a highly complex issue and it’s wrong to make a link with welfare reforms.
“This report is over 300 pages long and mentions welfare reform in just one paragraph.”