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J Epidemiol Community Health 50:30-32 doi:10.1136/jech.50.1.30
  • Research Article

Suicide from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in England.

  1. M Nowers,
  2. D Gunnell
  1. Psychiatry of Old Age Clinical Research Unit, Cossham Hospital, Kingswood, Bristol.

      Abstract

      OBJECTIVES: To examine the epidemiology of suicide by jumping from the Clifton Suspension Bridge and its impact on local patterns of suicide. DESIGN: Case-control study of falls from the bridge (1974-93) matched by age and sex with those using other methods of suicide. Routine OPCS mortality statistics for Bristol and District Health Authority. SETTING: The County of Avon and the Bristol and District Health Authority. SUBJECTS: 1. Individuals given coroners' verdicts of suicide, "open", or misadventure after falls from the suspension bridge and 127 matched control suicides using other methods. 2. All deaths from suicide within the Bristol and District Health Authority 1982-91. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Past psychiatric history, demographic characteristics of suicides, and proximity of place of residence to the bridge. RESULTS: There were 127 falls from the Clifton Suspension Bridge between 1974 and 1993. The mean age was 35.4 years for males (n = 93) and 35.5 for females (n = 34). Those who committed suicide by jumping were no more likely to have psychiatric histories than controls (95% CI of difference--1.17%, 23.2%) and were no more likely to have been psychiatric inpatients in the past (95% CI of difference--10.2%, 13.3%). Mean distance of residence from the bridge differed little between jumping suicides and controls (difference 1.7 km 95% CI 0.5, 3.9 km). Altogether 10.2% of jumpers had a past history of schizophrenia. Suicide by jumping is significantly more common in the Bristol and District Health Authority (9.3% of all suicides; 95% CI 7.6%, 11.3%) than in England and Wales (4.9% of suicides). CONCLUSIONS: Patterns of suicide in the Bristol and District Health Authority are affected by the presence of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Those who commit suicide by jumping from the bridge do not differ significantly from those using other methods of suicide. Provision of safety measures on the bridge may lead to the prevention of some suicides.