Sunday, March 21, 2010

Attempting suicide, an act of opportunity

As a child, I made at least one trip with my family to the Empire State Building. Standing on the observation gallery, I gained more height and a better view stepping on my father's flexed foot. There, as I pressed against the railing, I felt a powerful impulse to jump. I was only five years old at the time. No such suicidal ideations had previously plagued my consciousness. 

An article in the Huffington Post chronicles the history of suicide at Cornell University and the university's administration's response to the mental health needs of its student body and their families over time. Three recent suicides in the last month have reopened the issues surrounding suicide rates at the university.  Some experts believe the impulse to jump off Cornell's suspension bridges is a matter of opportunity. Partly fueled by the myth of Ithaca's gorges, some suggest if suicide bars were put in place, the obstruction would deter people from completing a suicide. Others think it's an unnecessary method for protecting people from themselves. 

In a recent study of 515 people who had their attempt at jumping off the Golden Gate bridge thwarted, 90% said they had never made another suicide attempt after that experience. One may assume desperation, impulse and opportunity all played a part in their attempt. The bridge was there. It promised a quick solution. 

So, are suicide bars a solution to the suicides in Ithaca?

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