Officials with the City of Edmonton marked one year since safety barriers were installed on the High Level Bridge, and is crediting those barriers with a reduction in the number of suicide attempts.

The City said paramedics were called to five attempted suicides on the bridge in 2016, compared to ten the year before. Meanwhile, police were called to the bridge 21 times for mental health calls in 2016, down from 41 such calls the previous year.

“The safety barriers were installed to provide a moment of pause or a sober second thought for those who may be suicidal,” Kris Andreychuk with the City of Edmonton said in a statement. “It’s still too early to conclusively know what effect the barriers are having, but after following similar projects and research in other cities, we believe the barriers are acting as a deterrent to suicide.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association agrees.

“They are in a place of uncertainty and so those barriers and those barriers are acting as a moment of pause to consider that uncertainty, give yourself space to reconsider that uncertainty and maybe reach out for help,” Stephanie Wright with the Canadian Mental Health Association said.

Officials said the statistics match numbers in other cities with suicide barriers.

“In other cities we have seen suicides decrease by 50 percent and while the numbers aren’t for sure yet, in this first year, it’s pretty promising,” Wright said – she also said anyone contemplating suicide in Edmonton can call 780-482-HELP (4357).

Construction on the barriers started in September 2015, and was finished in July 2016 – they are part of the city’s suicide prevention strategy. Emergency phones have also been installed on the bridge as part of the strategy for people in crisis to use, and for bystanders to use if they see someone in distress.

The city said suicide is a leading cause of death in Edmonton.

With files from David Ewasuk