Government must act over 'sad' Orwell Bridge deaths after petition launched

Dr Dan Poulter and Caroline Rutherford from Just 42 have backed a petition over Orwell Bridge deaths. 

MP Dr Dan Poulter and Caroline Rutherford from Just 42 have backed a petition over Orwell Bridge deaths. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A petition has been launched in parliament calling for action over a rising number of deaths from the Orwell Bridge.

After we revealed that Suffolk police receives almost one concern for safety call out every two days, a youth charity petitioned parliament to push National Highways to take action. 

There were 85 call-outs in 2017, rising to 86 in 2018 and 110 in 2019. In 2020 there were 163 in 2020, and so far this year there have been 188 calls, an FOI by this newspaper showed.  

Campaign starter Caroline Rutherford, from Suffolk rural young people's charity Just42, wants more safety measures similar to the barriers at Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. 

She said: "I see young people struggling with their mental health and we run a project all about supporting young people.

"I wanted to do something since I have known about this issue.

"My heart sinks everything time I hear about something on the bridge. I hope this can make a difference."

Mrs Rutherford said at mental health training she met someone, who saw incidents on the bridge that explained how seeing the incidents affects witnesses. 

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"People are just crying there," she added. 

MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Dr Dan Poulter said “Sadly, we continue to see a number of worrying incidents in relation to the Orwell Bridge.

“As a practising NHS mental health doctor, I know that a decision to end someone’s life at a time of distress can sometimes be sudden and impulsive in nature.

"So restricting pedestrian access to the Orwell Bridge and introducing other safety measures could have a significant impact in reducing the number of people accessing the bridge at times of personal distress."

Simon Amor, National Highways head of planning, said in November it has taken steps and is working with Suffolk police, Suffolk public health groups, the Samaritans, and other local organisations on this "difficult and sensitive issue". 

The Ipswich Star and EADT are also backing the petition to parliament over the Orwell Bridge deaths. 

Just42 runs a mentoring project for young people. 

You can sign the petition here.

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. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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