Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Camburger — Let's get hugging, Edmonton

We need volunteer huggers in Edmonton, stationed on the High Level Bridge. A few on the north side and some on the south side. Because sometimes a hug can lead to conversation, which could be life-saving. Edmonton city councillors voted Tuesday to look at options in securing the High Level Bridge to bring down the number of suicides. There were 14 deaths last year around the bridge area: 14 too many. And 41 reported suicide attempts between 2011 and 2013. Forty-one too many.

I think people who find themselves in such a state of thinking about ending their lives are going to find their way on to the bridge, no matter what. But if there were folks around watching, looking for signs of distress we might be on to something. What if the city and The Support Network got together and trained volunteers to help?

There could be rewarding in so many ways. For volunteers it would provide a way for them to reach out in ways they might not even know they had. Maybe just an hour at a time. For people in need, a caring face can do so much. Sometimes, just seeing someone can comfort us. And a welcoming hug could change someone’s life. What do you think, Edmonton?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your heart is certainly in the right place, but I have to admit being dubious whether that is the best way to go about resolving the problem. Assuming you mean 3 years when you say from 2011 to 2013, 41 attempts equates to one every 26 days or thereabouts. Doesn't seem practical to me to have the bridge watched 24/7/365 in order to attempt to intervene every month or so with a desperate person. There are also other bridges in the city as well as innumerable other ways to attempt suicide.

Improving the fencing (or other impediments to jumping) is a different concept; it is a one-time action that doesn't need continuous volunteer efforts to make it effective, so I have no objection to that or any other one-time actions that will slow down someone who is desperate.

I very much respect your concern, I just think it is not an efficient way to do what needs to be done. Volunteer efforts would be better spent manning crisis lines, helping at mental health organizations, and in general being sensitive to others anywhere and everywhere 24/7/365, not just at one bridge.