Shatter silence surrounding suicides in Niagara

Should the media cover suicide deaths?

610 CKTB has been dealing with the question lately following recent suicides at the Burgoyne Bridge in downtown St.Cathairnes.

News Director of 610 CKTB, Bonnie Heslop says after much debate and careful consideration they have decided to report on the deaths in some cases.

Heslop says the first thing she learned in journalism school is to avoid any suicide coverage to prevent copycat deaths, but she says that school of thought is not working.

She says the time has come to talk about mental health in life and death. "The time has come to shine a light on a very dark topic in Niagara. Whether it be the Burgoyne Bridge or Niagara Falls we know people are deciding to end their lives in our region. We are hoping that by reporting on some of these cases we can help inspire a movement of ending the silence."

Heslop says suicides on the Burgoyne Bridge, which stands right beside CKTB's broadcast studio have been an issue for many years.

She says she has witnessed a person commit suicide a decade ago, and the image has never left her mind.

Heslop and fellow co-workers helped facilitate the rescue of a distraught woman who had climbed onto the bridge a few months ago.

Heslop says residents are looking to help in anyway, with some posting inspiring messages and some have offered to help patrol the bridge and spot people in need.

We have reached out to Niagara Regional Police to find out if they will be increasing patrols in the Burgoyne Bridge area, or if they support the citizens offering to patrol the bridge. 

Darcy Patrick, a local mental health advocate and Author of 'Why I Run' joined CKTB this afternoon saying the only way things are going to change is if we start talking about it.

Patrick says people are suffering and if we ignore these situations it's sending a message that everything is ok, and it is not.

He encourages people to reach out and get help.

If you, or someone you know is in crisis, call 911.

Pathstone Mental Health is reaching out to the youth of Niagara in crisis, saying crisis workers are available 24/7, 365 days a year by calling 1-800-263-4944.

The Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition asks adult residents to call 911 if someone is in immediate need, or call a Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) 1-866-550-5205.