An analysis of the impact of suicide prevention messages and memorials on motorway bridges

Siobhan O'Neill, Courtney Potts, RR Bond, Maurice Mulvenna, Edel Ennis, Danielle McFeeters, David Boyda, Jacqui Morrissey, Elizabeth Scowcroft, Mette Isaksen, Robin Turkington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently there has been activity at public locations where people have died by suicide, including the erection of suicide prevention messages and memorials (decorations). This research looks at the impact of these decorations and associated media coverage of the decorations on suicidal behaviour at bridges. Incidents (n=160) of suicidal behaviour on 26 bridges across motorways in England were analysed. Overall, there was no significant difference in the proportion of incidents pre-decoration versus post-decoration (p-value=0.55). The incident rates were not significantly different pre- and post-decoration (p=0.46). Only one bridge had statistically significantly more incidents post-decoration and media reporting (p=0.03). However, following correction for multiple testing there was no significant difference in pre and post-incident rates at any of the bridges. In total, 58% of bridges had a greater frequency of incidents when decorations were absent, however this proportion was not statistically significant (p=0.41). Further research is required to establish how suicide prevention messages are perceived. There does not appear to be any benefit, but it often generates media coverage which has been shown to increase risk. Therefore, a precautionary approach is recommended on the use of suicide prevention messages as an intervention at bridges.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Oct 2020


  • data analysis
  • bridges
  • messages of hope
  • mental health
  • suicide ideation
  • suicide attempts
  • real world data
  • suicide prevention

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