Call to cut suicide risk
TOBY Robson, who pulled a suicidal woman back from a car park ledge on Wednesday, is calling for better safety measures to be put in place.
The Wyvern Theatre car park has been a hotspot for falls and suicides over the last 10 years, and, while it is due for closure by Christmas, Toby is concerned about similar locations in the town centre.
“Since the last fatality in April, I am very aware of anybody being on top of the car park,” said Toby, 43, a consultant with Create Studios. “I have glass windows in my office, and we are aware of people moving around up there.”
On Wednesday morning, Toby saw a woman wandering around the top of the car park. When he saw her clamber on to the parapet, he asked a colleague to call the police and ran over.
“I had the dilemma of doing or saying the wrong thing,” he said. “I knew the police were on their way, so I wanted to get her to talk to me and let her know somebody was bothered about her.
“She did not seem nervous, which was encouraging. “If she appeared twitchy at all I would have stayed well back. I asked if I could come closer so I did not have to shout. I managed to get within a yard of her, and tried to get her to look at me, just to establish some contact.
“She was obviously facing a lot of issues that day, and she was very vulnerable. All I wanted to do was to change her train of thought if possible.
“I got really worried that if sirens were heard she might do something. “She started moving around on the parapet, and I just grabbed her. She didn’t resist, she just went floppy and burst into tears.
“My concern is that car park already has a reputation. I am worried about even drawing attention to the issue, but it seems people who are vulnerable already know about the location.
“Obviously, if someone is determined to harm themselves, you can’t stop them, but there are people at a crisis point and may make a decision on the spur of the moment.
“There are some steps we can take to make that less likely.”
A police spokesman said: “Officers arrived at the scene within eight minutes and the woman was helped down from the car park. She was then taken to a place of safety.”
A council spokesman said: “All of our patrolling car park staff are trained to be vigilant of vulnerable people in our multi-storey car parks and will respond accordingly.
“We have put up posters in our car parks urging distressed or depressed people to contact Swindon Samaritans.” The Council’s Cabinet also recently approved a car park strategy which will see the closure of some of our older car parks.
“Our modern car parks, such as the almost completed Whalebridge car park, have larger barriers on their rooftops to minimise incidents.”
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