Crisis Phones - Suicide Prevention Versus Suggestion/Contagion Effects

Crisis. 2015;36(3):220-4. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000313. Epub 2015 Jun 30.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Crisis Intervention
  • Environment Design*
  • Florida
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Telephone*