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Suicides prompt Ann Arbor to consider safety fencing

Oct 3, 2017

Ann Arbor city officials want the Downtown Development Authority to fast-track authorization to install safety fences on the top deck of city-owned parking structures. The goal is to prevent more suicides or falls from those parking garages.

The DDA is expected to vote tomorrow on the authorization.

Efforts to obtain information from the DDA about estimated costs were unsuccessful.

According to MLive, there have been 12 fatal falls or jumps from parking garages in Ann Arbor since 2010, with the most recent earlier this week from the Fourth & William parking structure in downtown Ann Arbor.

Howard Lazarus, Ann Arbor's cty administrator, said people have been jumping from the top decks so that is where fencing is needed most.

"Closing that off makes it a little bit harder -- adds another step -- for people who are troubled," said Lazarus. "And I think the more difficult you can make it, the more likely it is that people will not take their own lives."

"Anything you can do to make it harder for people to take their own lives is worthwhile," Lazarus said.

Lazarus said suicide is a community mental health problem, and the best way to prevent it is early intervention.

Eight parking structures in Ann Arbor are owned by the the city and run by the DDA. Fifteen are owned and run by the University of Michigan. In a written response to a question about whether university parking structures have top deck fencing to prevent suicides or falls, a university spokesperson said its parking structures have "railings per code to prevent falls."