‘Suicide Bridge’ SOS line could save lives

A FREE emergency phone at Archway Bridge should be connected as soon as possible to help anyone thinking of jumping to their deaths, it has been suggested.

Community campaigners have joined together to demand a phone is installed to offer a lifeline to suicidal people. The calls come after three men have fallen to their deaths in as many weeks from the notorious suicide spot, which spans Archway Road, Highgate.

A BT phone box nearby was broken when campaigners checked, only allowing 999 calls to be made.

One of the campaigners, Highgate resident Sarah Cope, said: “Although there are people who are very determined to commit suicide, there are others who can be talked around and given help. This is what we need a freephone for. We cannot wait for yet more avoidable deaths to impact irrevocably on families.

“The messages that are currently displayed on the bridge from friends and family of the dead men are utterly heartbreaking, and we must do everything we can to prevent further avoidable tragedies occurring.”

Fellow campaigner Sue Hessel, of Haslemere Road, Crouch End, said: “The Samaritans have put up a couple of laminated posters with their number – but one is already covered in graffiti and illegible. Also, I was shocked to learn that their helpline isn’t a freephone number. Sadly we just know there will be more suicides to come.”

A Samaritans spokesman said it gives its “full support” to calls for an SOS phone and fundraising efforts to make it happen. The BT phone box will be repaired shortly, and has a poster advertising the charity’s services.

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It also replaced its vandalised sign on the bridge within 48 hours of being notified. The spokesman said, adding: “We are aware not everyone can afford a phone call and we will always offer to call someone back. Our helpline is a local rate number and we would never turn away a person needing our support.”

Samaritans’ confidential, non-judgemental support is available 24/7 on 08457 90 90 90, by e-mailing jo@samaritans.org or visiting a Samaritans branch – see www.samaritans.org for details.