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Orwell Bridge claims another life

PUBLISHED: 12:30 27 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 March 2010

THE TOLL of people who fell to their death from the Orwell Bridge today rose to 21.

A man, believed to be in his mid-20s, became the latest victim to plunge 150ft into the freezing waters of the River Orwell in what is believed to have been a suicide jump.

THE TOLL of people who fell to their death from the Orwell Bridge today rose to 21.

A man, believed to be in his mid-20s, became the latest victim to plunge 150ft into the freezing waters of the River Orwell in what is believed to have been a suicide jump.

A motorist spotted a man sitting on the edge of the bridge on the eastbound carriageway with his feet dangling over the side at about 11.10pm yesterday.

The driver called police to alert them to the man who was acting strangely on the bridge and officers attended the scene.

However, they were unable to find anyone on the bridge when they arrived and subsequently contacted Thames Coastguard to help them conduct a search of the area.

The coastguard was joined by Harwich inshore lifeboat in searching the Orwell river for any sign of the man and shortly after midnight the lifeboat crew pulled a body out of the water, about a half a mile down river from the bridge.

The body has yet to be formally identified but it is believed to be that of a man aged about 25-years-old and from Ipswich.

The man is the 21st person to die after falling or jumping from the Orwell Bridge since it opened in 1982.

There were seven deaths in 1996, including the killing of 16-week-old Daniel Whayman. His mother Lisa, who was suffering from schizophrenia, admitted manslaughter.

However, the majority of deaths from the bridge were suicides and most were men.

The Samaritans and Ipswich's coroners have repeatedly raised concern about the large number of people killing themselves by jumping off the bridge.

At an inquest in 1999, Noel Watkins, Ipswich coroner at the time, said something needed to be done to make it harder for people suffering problems to take the option of simply throwing themselves off the bridge.

He said: "It cannot be beyond the wit of man. It isn't any good to say if people want to commit suicide they will do it wherever.

"The bridge has all too often over the years provided an immediate way out of people's problems."

The Samaritans have tried to help as best they can and began campaigning for phones to be installed on the bridge in 1996.

Four phones were put in place at either end of the bridge in 1998 and prominent signs along its span to let people know they can call the Samaritans to talk about their problems.

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If you need to talk to the Samaritans you can call them on 0845 790 9090 or 01473 211133. If you wish to talk face-to-face you can visit the Samaritans' office in St Helens Street, Ipswich.


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