Barriers to be installed at Goldstream trestle as part of suicide prevention community action plan

Barriers to be installed at Goldstream trestle as part of suicide prevention community action plan
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
Barriers will be installed along the Niagra Canyon Trestle, also known as the Goldstream trestle, in an effort to prevent additional suicides.

Barriers will be installed along the Niagara Canyon Trestle, also known as the Goldstream trestle, in an effort to prevent additional suicides.

The communities of Sooke and Langford say they are working together to plan, coordinate and mobilize resources to better respond to crisis and suicide. Part of this risk mitigation strategy involves barrier implementation for areas within Goldstream Provincial Park, including around the rail infrastructure.

Calls for barriers to be added to the trestle amplified earlier this year after 16-year-old Andre Courtemanche took his own life in the area amid struggles with anxiety and depression.

“We’re thrilled, we’re really happy and it’s really the fact that the families were heard here. This has been a safety issue for a long time and something that they’ve been calling for for a long time,” said Kirsten Marten, spokesperson for the Courtemanche family.
“I’m truly relieved today. This has been something that’s affected our community deeply,” said Langford Fire Department chief Chris Aubrey. “My job as fire chief is to save lives and I have no doubt that these measures that are being put in place with the barriers at the trestle as well as the mental health supports are going to save lives.”
The trestle is currently privately owned by the Island Corridor Foundation, however, is a popular hiking trail and a place that Langford first responders are called to on a regular basis.

“The work to put the barriers in place will begin immediately and should be completed within the coming weeks. The community’s work on mental health is critical and we are committed to supporting these efforts,” said Island Corridor Foundation CEO, Larry Stevenson.

The trestle barriers over Niagara Canyon are just one part of a comprehensive plan that has been pieced together in order to improve mental health and prevent future suicides.

A group of municipal, provincial, community-sector, first responder, education, elected and railway infrastructure leaders have been meeting on a regular basis to create the plan, focused on implementing a multi-level suicide prevention plan that builds on existing community supports and resources in the West Shore and Sooke regions.

“For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. Suicide is a complex issue, and we know that communities have a critical role to play in its prevention by providing support and a safety net to people who are experiencing a suicidal crisis. Suicide is a tragedy, but it is not inevitable, and lives can be saved with the appropriate services, supports, and means safety measures in place,” says CMHA BC CEO Jonny Morris.

The group has been focused on ensuring appropriate crisis measures are active in place, raising awareness about available community services and supports, reinforcing linkages between systems of care, and improving safety in and around railway infrastructure, such as the trestle in Goldstream Provincial Park.

The group is next looking at recruiting a regional suicide prevention leader to keep the work moving forward. This individual would work with key community partners to expand key services like community counselling, safety improvements, and other evidence-based measures.

“Each life lost to suicide deeply affects people and whole communities – from this shared grief, there’s power in grassroots action to prevent such tragedies,” says Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “The Province is grateful for the leadership of Sooke and Westshore, asB.C. continues to build a comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care to ensure everyone gets the help they need, when they need it.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or having thoughts of suicide you can call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.

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