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

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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 =.55). The incident rates were not significantly different pre- and post-decoration (p =.46). Only one bridge had statistically significantly more incidents post-decoration and media reporting (p =.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 =.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. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-664
Number of pages8
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour
Issue number4
Early online date12 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Samaritans Enterprises Limited/Highways England under grant ID 76803454.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association of Suicidology.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • data analysis
  • bridges
  • messages of hope
  • mental health
  • suicide ideation
  • suicide attempts
  • real world data
  • suicide prevention
  • suicide
  • media reporting
  • bridge
  • prevention
  • suicidal behaviour
  • Suicide/prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Communications Media


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