Background: There has been no systematic work on the short- or long-term impact of the installation of crisis phones on suicides from bridges. The present study addresses this issue.
Method: Data refer to 219 suicides from 1954 through 2013 on the Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida. Six crisis phones with signs were installed in July 1999.
Results: In the first decade after installation, the phones were used by 27 suicidal persons and credited with preventing 26 or 2.6 suicides a year. However, the net suicide count increased from 48 in the 13 years before installation of phones to 106 the following 13 years or by 4.5 additional suicides/year (t =3.512, p < .001).
Conclusion: Although the phones prevented some suicides, there was a net increase after installation. The findings are interpreted with reference to suggestion/contagion effects including the emergence of a controversial bridge suicide blog.
Keywords: bridge suicide; contagion; imitation suicide; jumping as a method; prevention; suicide.