"Doctor! Doctor! I need to tell you I am in terrible emotional pain and feel suicidal " - "Don't worry we'll build an expensive fence on a bridge" ....Was his reply ...
In fact the patient was some 400 people since 1918 who leapt from Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct. To be sure the suicides have now stopped (from 9.3 a year to zero) on the bridge after the $5.5 million fence either side of it was erected .Toronto CTV News carry the full story
But do not cheer . People just chose other bridges and the overall suicide rate in the city remained more or less the same ( from 56.4 a year to 56.6)
The point of repeating this story though is to make a statement to enshrine it within . The obvious statement : Is bridge-fence "therapy" effective ?
(you are allowed a partly stupified surprised look on your face as you say this to yourself)
No its not really and as Dr Sinyor states :
"In order to really prevent suicides, you need programs that improve access to psychiatrists and other mental health workers, that improve the sense of hope. And barriers don't do that," he says. Sinyor says it's unfortunate that while there is often funding for concrete restriction projects, mental health support programs remain chronically underfunded."
This echoes other contexts of "barriers to therapy" too that imply self restraint of despair is desireable in the face of emotional desperation whilst not giving a place for that despair to find its unique narrative . Listening to people's life- pain stories and finding the point of tearful acceptances is not about engineering barriers but engineering the allowance of a voice of pain and sharing it toward healing and hearing .
On July 4th Lee Wright aged 58 in UK Birmingham committed suicide by jumping off a mental hospital roof he had found access to . The Birmingham Evening Mail carry the full story written by Alison Dayani . Was Lee Wright on "suicide watch" - did he have therapeutic help that was partnering him in his pain ? His family state :
“Lee was on suicide watch but got through a hatch in the hospital leading to the roof, where he fell to his death,” said the friend. “Everyone who knew Lee is asking themselves how was this allowed to happen? “He was under the care of ward staff, who should have been watching him so closely that there was no opportunity for him to get on to the roof in the first place. It is appalling.”
Has empathic feeling care and the ability to care been replaced by slick barriers and what passes for caring-performance ?
Two months before in May 2010 Barry Gibb committed suicide in North Birmingham UK by "falling" from a balcony - it was not reported by local papers. Barry suffered from schizophrenia although according to friends was a reachable man that was in pain about his life . His life rotated about being cared for but at least one person who knew him says :
"There is a need for a gradual and careful therapy to create a healing place for people like Barry to live with the sad life-pain he suffered and the sense of failures it brings . There's nothing wrong with facing facts but everything wrong in being left to wander in deep misery with them . Sometimes Barry was in deep misery and he should have had more therapeutic help . "
People end themselves to end pain that is not shared socially with the rest of us. Those are the barriers, on the bridges we might remake with greater openness so we all walk with a truer policy of rescue .
In Birmingham UK apparently there are now in 2010 some 70 Cognitive Behaviour Therapists now trained (after 1 year or so of an implementation programme) - a lot of them have no full field experience and frankly are following a rationing policy of sessions . Will they make a difference ? Possibly, but few are trained in grief resolution for issues like long term personal senses of failure and rescuing child abused survivors . Thought (CBT) over heart is the basis of their approach . In this sense its easy to see why some critics of State Therapy are seeing CBT as another long fence and barrier ..