A drastic overhaul of mental health support remains the key to reducing the number of attempted suicides on the Tay Road Bridge, it has been claimed.
There has been a spate of incidents on the crossing recently, with the bridge being closed by police after reports of concern for a person just after 3am earlier this week.
In another incident, a body was recovered from the Tay after a man was seen entering the water from the bridge.
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said more must be done for people struggling with their mental health before they reach crisis point.
He said: “The reality is, the bridge isn’t the issue.
“Mental health services, and making sure adequate support is there for people who find themselves in crisis, is the issue.
“We have to ask ourselves, why are people presenting themselves at the bridge and why are people – in some instances – jumping off the bridge? And are they receiving the right support?
“In many cases, the answer will be ‘no’.
“And that is fundamentally the crux of it – we’ve got to get better at providing the right services at the right time, to intervene and support people to save their lives.
“That’s what’s going to make the difference to saving people’s lives.
“The bridge, unfortunately, is just one way in which a negative experience manifests itself.
“And, if it wasn’t the bridge, it might well be something else.”
In July, Health Improvement Scotland said it had found “significant concerns” with adult mental health community services in Dundee.
Campaigners such as Phil Welsh, whose son Lee took his own life in 2017, are among those who have called for a 24/7 crisis centre.
Mr Alexander reiterated his backing for such a facility, as well as other measures which may discourage people from accessing the bridge.
He said: “It’s just not about physical things like barriers and netting, there are other things.
“It’s about more than having messages and support available on the bridge – such as if people can pick up a phone and call someone.
“It is making sure people know there is support available and they are valued, and that isn’t what they need to do and where they need to be.
“I’ve been asked previously about things like a crisis centre, and I think those types of initiatives are going to make far more of a difference than netting, or fencing or whatever it might be.”
The ongoing issue will be discussed at a meeting of the bridge board on Monday.
Link to Evening Telegraph article here