The security staff at the Humber Bridge are being urged to receive better training to effectively assist individuals in mental health crises. This call for improved training comes after an inquest into the tragic death of Elizabeth Watson, who took her own life at the bridge in December 2022. The coroner’s report highlighted the lack of a structured training policy for staff and expressed concerns about their ability to identify and support vulnerable individuals. The Humber Bridge spokesperson has stated that they are currently reviewing these concerns.
Elizabeth Watson, a primary school teacher, was described as intelligent and fun-loving in the coroner’s report on the prevention of future deaths. The inquest revealed that her mental health had been deteriorating since 2019. On the day of her death, security staff in the control room observed her on the bridge for a short period of time before she jumped. The coroner ruled her death as suicide.
The coroner emphasized the importance of adequate training for the security staff at the bridge in identifying individuals in distress. While acknowledging their competence, she expressed concern about the lack of training in effectively communicating and negotiating with people in crisis. The staff’s responsibilities extend beyond security to monitoring individuals for signs of poor mental health. The coroner also raised concerns about delays in emergency services and mental health specialists reaching the scene, leaving staff to care for vulnerable individuals for extended periods.
The Humber Bridge spokesperson expressed disappointment with the broader comments made by the coroner in the report. They emphasized the wide range of challenging tasks their staff undertake daily, including dealing with distressed individuals. The spokesperson stated that they are currently reviewing the points raised in the report and will respond directly to the coroner in due course.
If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support are available through the BBC Action Line.