MORE than £100,000 is set to be invested to make a town centre bridge - which has been labelled a ‘high-risk suicide location’ following 36 separate incidents over a two-year period - safer for struggling residents.

The report, which was discussed by members of the Barnsley Town Board in a meeting yesterday, shows that a total of £120,000 will be spent on additional safety measures at the Pitt Street bridge, which runs above Westway near Morrisons.

The bridge, alongside the public walkway on Newton Street and the Castlereagh Street footbridge - all in the town centre - have been identified by Barnsley Council as a ‘high-risk suicide location’ due to the sheer number of incidents taking place.

The report states: “It presents a historic high-risk location for mental health crisis, suicide attempts and completed suicides.

“From the locations monitored, between January 2022 and December 2023 there has been 36 incidents at this location with one fatality - making it the most prevalent location in the borough.

“Not only is this concerning for the individuals involved but it poses a real safety risk to those travelling in cars on Westway.”

A whole host of works is being planned in a bid to lower the number of incidents at the site - including higher railings and better lighting.

It’s hoped it will also contribute to Barnsley Council’s ambitious ‘Zero Suicide’ ambition.

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“A feasibility study is to be conducted to see what is possible from a highways, bridges and structure engineering perspective,” the report added.

“Higher railings will be used to prevent easy access onto the dual carriageway.

“Other safety measures will present individuals from climbing the barriers and sitting on the other side of the fencing for prolonged periods.”

Further plans include additional CCTV cameras at the site, as well as using unused green space nearby that could be used for community health initiatives.

It’s believed that the scheme will improve public safety for residents both at the location and on Westway.

“It’s hoped this will result in a reduction in people presenting in mental health crisis at the location and a reduction in people being detained under a 136 under the Mental Health Act,” the report added.

“It’s also hoped there will be a reduction in suicides in this area and across Barnsley.

“There will be increased road safety and reduced trauma from witnesses and emergency services.

“There will also be increased opportunities for volunteering through arts and green spaces, increasing social cohesion and improvements to residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.”

Coun Nicola Sumner, who represents the Central ward, told the Chronicle she is pleased the measures are set to be introduced.

She added: “I welcome the suicide prevention measures proposed in the Central ward.

“Suicide rates are generally higher for men and it is heartbreaking for everyone involved.

“The plan proposed is not just about bridge safety improvements.

“It also creates clubs and activities nearby to offer support and better wellbeing for residents.

“Our public health team at the council are really innovative when it comes to approaching issues.

“We all have mental health and we need to be able to talk about it without stigma and not suffer alone.

“I really hope these plans help to save lives.”

By July next year it’s hoped that work will commence on the structures of the bridge, as well as guard rails on Pitt Street.

Organisations on hand to offer supportTHERE are a number of support groups in Barnsley who offer mental health support for those who need it including Sue Nortcliff’s MAT Charity.Mathew James Fullerton died through suicide aged 38 in October 2020 following a lengthy struggle with his mental health.His mum Sue, of Little Houghton, described Mathew as a funny, clever man who had many friends, shown with hundreds of people lining the streets of Middlecliffe at his funeral.Sue subsequently set up MAT Charity to give residents a safe place to speak with others and she’s encouraging anyone who is struggling to get in touch.She told the Chronicle: “I do this so no family has to go through what we did.“There are other options.“Most problems can be supported and sorted out.“We’ve got the charity shop in Wombwell but it’s not just that we do lots of things to support people.“We’ve got a safe space at the back of the shop and we’ve got two people who come in every day even just for a chat.“We are doing some good and we just want to support as many people as possible.”This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and Sue and her team of volunteers have been out and about supporting those who need it most.But she’s always on the lookout for more support.“We’ve done walks around Manvers Lake and yoga sessions,” she added.“We’re also doing a walk around Worsbrough Reservoir it’s good to get walking and talking.“It helps your mental health.“We’ve just got to try and stop this from happening we want to help as many people with mental health problems as possible, and their families too.“We’re always on the lookout for volunteers and for people to support us through fundraising.”

Below is a list of places where you can get mental health support in 2024.Mat’s Charity: A Barnsley charity which offers a listening ear for anyone suffering with their mental health located on 4 Station Road, WombwellSamaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email jo@samaritans.orgPlatform 1 Men’s Community Group visit the website or call 01484 421143.Andy’s Man Club: info@andysmanclub.co.ukPAPYRUS phone 0800 068 4141MIND, a charity offering support and advice for people with mental health problemsProject 14 a local charity which offers support for people with mental health issues email tom@project-14.co.ukLiam Jones Legacy a mental health support group in Barnsley. Email liamslegacy01@gmail.com.