Jumping from the Westgate Bridge, Melbourne

Michael Coman, Alastair D McR Meyer, Peter A. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To describe characteristics of people who jumped from the Westgate Bridge (identifying risk factors for attempted suicide) and to determine why people may survive such a jump. Design and setting: A retrospective case review (coroners' reports and hospital records) of all people known to have jumped from the Westgate Bridge between 1991 and 1998. Results: We identified 62 people who jumped from the Westgate Bridge over the study period. Seven survived. Forty-one (74%) of those who jumped were male. The average age was 33.8 years (range, 15-58 years). Forty-four (71%) had known mental illness (23 schizophrenia, 21 depression). Thirty-nine (63%) landed in water, falling from a height of 58.5 m. Nineteen (31%) fell onto land and in four cases (6%) the landing site was not determined. All survivors landed in water. Six people died from drowning after the fall, and in eight more deaths drowning was a major or contributing factor. All jumps resulted from suicidal intent, and 12 people (19%) had positive toxicology screens for alcohol or other non-prescription drugs at postmortem. Conclusions: Each year the Westgate Bridge is the scene of about eight suicide attempts by jumping (particularly by men with active psychiatric illness). Some deaths by drowning could be prevented by early detection and rapid emergency service response. The erection of an effective safety barrier would probably prevent more deaths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-69
Number of pages3
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Volume172
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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