RCMP talk man down

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP briefly closed the Trans Canada Highway south of the Silver Bridge Friday afternoon when a man on the pedestrian walkway above the road threatened to commit suicide.

RCMP Spokesperson Cpl. Krista Hobday said a 19-year-old man called police himself just before 1 p.m., saying he was upset and threatening to kill himself.

"That indicates to us that they actually want help," said Hobday.

The man allowed police to take him into custody without incident. He was transported to hospital for assessment and further treatment if required.

Hobday said he is not the same man who threatened to jump from the same pedestrian overpass in March. That 17-year-old young man did not call police himself; police were instead notified by passing motorists.

Witnesses to Friday’s incident identified the young man as being First Nations.

In May of 2012 Cowichan Tribes declared a state of emergency due to a high number of suicide alerts – 52 between January and May of that year – and four Cowichan Tribes members who did end their lives.

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said in April that he didn’t have exact figures, but the numbers have improved since then, though there has been a recent uptick in incidents.

"They’ve gone down, and now they’re starting to pick up again," he said. "It’s starting to kick in again and it’s related to the time of the year, I think."

Seymour said he is waiting for a report on the situation that should be coming soon.

"We’re still in a state of emergency," he said.

He said there is a plan to host a gathering of elders from up and down the Island who will get together to talk to Tribes youths, but details have not yet been finalized.

"We’ve been working hard, but I do know the numbers have gone down," Seymour said. "Once the reports are finalized and approved by council then it will probably be released."

When the state of emergency was declared in 2012 a number of issues were identified as possible contributors to the problem including high unemployment and a sense of hopelessness, and the erosion of traditional rights in areas such as hunting and fishing.

Saturday A second man climbed the same pedestrian walkway Saturday afternoon threatening suicide.

Police were alerted to the incident through a number of 911 calls that came in at 2:30 p.m. from concerned motorists and bystanders. Police closed the road for 20 minutes and a negotiator was able to talk the man down.

The man was transported to hospital for assessment.

Three recent incidents at the same site has brought up the issue of security on the overpass.

The possibility of installing wire mesh on the bridge to prevent people from climbing over the railing would have to be addressed by the municipality or the Ministry of Transportation, said Hobday.

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