Foyle Bridge CCTV cameras 'will help to prevent suicides'
A leading authority in mental health and suicide prevention has said the installation of CCTV cameras along Londonderry's Foyle Bridge will save lives.
Six cameras are being placed along the bridge, each of which will be constantly monitored.
They will be operational within days and are part of a joint project between the Public Health Authority, the City Centre Initiative and the PSNI.
Ulster University's Siobhan O'Neill, a professor of mental health, welcomed the introduction of the cameras.
"The installation of CCTV cameras are an important part of suicide prevention, and these cameras will save lives in the future," she said.
"In cases where intervention takes place, normally people will later say they were glad someone prevented them from suicide and they are glad they are alive.
"The myth that if people are stopped they will only do it elsewhere needs to be dispelled.
"The evidence is there that people who are grateful that someone intervened when they were in crisis.
"While the CCTV cameras are not the only answer and will not on their own eradicate suicide, they will help with intervention and will identify vulnerable people and assist in help reaching them faster.
"However, much more investment in mental health still needs to be made.
"There are other aspects that are being looked at for the city, but these cameras will play a part in the overall picture."
The cameras will be part of wider CCTV monitoring across Derry carried out by the City Centre Initiative.
City centre manager Jim Roddy said the installation had come about as a result of years of hard work by a number of agencies. "We were only too aware of how important this issue is to people in the city," he added.
"We hope to have the cameras operational as soon as possible, and they will be monitored 24 hours a day, which will give assistance to the emergency response teams, including the PSNI, Ambulance Service and Foyle Search and Rescue."
Deputy chairman of the Health Committee and Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, who has previously raised the issue of suicide in the north west in the Assembly, welcomed the scheme
He said: "I have no doubt this will be of great benefit in reducing the suicide figure in the city.
"The response time by the emergency services will be faster, so the health and safety of everyone will be increased."
A spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency (PHA) added: "The PHA agreed to provide funding to assist with the set-up costs of CCTV monitoring in the area in order to enhance safety and health and wellbeing."
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, you can telephone Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info