Mum's call for more to be done to improve Orwell Bridge Safety

The Orwell Bridge

Orwell Bridge on the A14 near Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The mother of a young man who died after falling from the Orwell Bridge has called for more to be done to prevent deaths after a body was found in the river below.

On Sunday, a body was found in the water near The Strand, at Wherstead, after a search and rescue operation involving police, fire and the coastguard.

Laura Hall, who lost her son Archie Hall after he fell from the bridge in 2015, feels still not enough is being done to prevent people after she led a successful campaign to close the lay-bys on the run-up to the Orwell Bridge.

"You feel like you're letting people down by there not being more done about the Orwell Bridge," she said. 

Archie Hall with mum Laura Hall

Archie Hall with mum Laura Hall - Credit: Archant

Ms Hall, who works with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), thinks the way we deal with mental health issues is changing but not enough.

She said: "There has been a real enlightenment when it comes mental health since Archie died but sadly it is not making a difference to rates of suicides. 

"I'm still shocked you can be so near people and not know that they are going to take their own lives. 

"We knew Archie was struggling and he was getting help. If you can just stop people getting to that point and be able to get them passed that we could make a difference."

An audit by Suffolk County Council in 2016 found that 4% of deaths from suicide occurred from falls from the Orwell Bridge and 5% were deaths on railway lines. Three in four suicides take place within the home.

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National Highways, the new name of Highways England, said they sympathies are with those struggling.

Head of planning, Simon Amor, said: “Safety is our top priority and our thoughts and sympathies are with those struggling at the moment.

"Earlier this year we took steps to help save lives at the Orwell Bridge and we will continue to work closely with Suffolk police, Suffolk public health groups, the Samaritans, and other local organisations in considering this difficult and sensitive issue.”

The agency replaced the Samaritans signs on the approach to the bridge, installed four new phones and closed the lay-bys either side of the bridge.

Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ezra Hewing, head of education at Suffolk Mind, said suicide has "many causes" from a range of mental health issues including trauma, financial hardship and depression. 

He added that sleep deprivation along with "the build-up of negative emotions" can leave people vulnerable that could lead in the "worst cases" to suicide. 

“If you know someone who is faced with any of these risk factors, do encourage them to seek support," he said. "This can be practical support with addressing financial hardship, as well as emotional support with bereavement or addressing traumas and mental ill-health."

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123.