By Azadeh Karimi

The Tehran Municipality plans to increase police presence and implement suicide prevention measures at the Tabiat Bridge in north-central Tehran, according to Colonel Ali Karkhaneh, the commander of the 3rd Precinct of the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s (NAJA) Prevention Police.

The new measures might include installing suicide prevention barriers, nets, and fences.

“The bridge and its beautiful surroundings are a perfect place for families to relax and enjoy themselves,” Colonel Karkhaneh was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying. “Occasionally, someone tries to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge, unfortunately.”

“The Judiciary has ordered the city of Tehran to implement safety and security measures to deter people from jumping off the bridge,” Karkhaneh added. “We will increase the number of officers patrolling the area. There should also be more security guards posted on the bridge.”

“A mental health professional always accompanies our officers who respond to emergency calls regarding a potential jumper on the bridge,” Karkhaneh explained. “We have been able to save two people by talking them out of killing themselves in recent times.”

Suicide has increased in Iran in recent years. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Iran’s suicide rate was 5.3 per 100,000 people in 2014. That figure increased to 5.5 and 6.23, respectively, in 2016 and 2017.

The global suicide rate is 12 deaths per 100,000 people.

Most people who commit suicide in Iran are between the ages of 15 and 35. Nearly 73 percent of all deaths occur in big cities.

Meanwhile, Meysam Akhbari, the director of Communication and International Relations of Abbasabad Cultural Complex, which manages the Tabiat Bridge, said recently that the company was improving health and safety measures on and around the Tabiat Bridge.

“The bridge is a pedestrian overpass and a tourist site. It is not for jumpers who want to kill themselves,” Mr. Akhbari was quoted by the Tehran-based Saat-24 News website as saying. “A few million domestic and foreign tourists visit the bridge every year without an incident. Naturally, there would be much negative publicity when four people try to jump off the bridge.”

“We have held several meetings with architects, engineers, and contractors this year on improving safety and security measures,” Akhbari explained. “Our staff has also been receiving emergency preparedness training that would enable them to act as first responders before the fire department, and emergency services arrive at the scene. Sometimes, our people have successfully prevented an incident before the fire department, and police have arrived. We have also provided more training to our security guards and increased their numbers at the site from 15 to 30.”

“We have been working on two sets of health and safety measures aimed at increasing security on and around the Tabiat Bridge,” Akbari added. “In the past year, we have sought expert advice on the matter from engineers, architects, and building contractors. The board of directors of the Abbasabad Cultural Complex will discuss the projects next week. We will implement new health and safety measures soon.”

There were reportedly two suicide attempts off the Tabiat Bridge last year, one of which resulted in the death of a 28-year-old person.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]