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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Corporation plans to raise walls at Thiru.Vi.Ka Bridge - to prevent suicides

Chennai from MRTS offers a different perspective – an aerial sight … and as one crosses Kotturpuram Station – before Kasturba Nagar – the train passes over Adyar river – ‘not so distant’ Thiru Vi Ka bridge with vehicular traffic would be visible.

Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, "to kill oneself") is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which can be attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder,schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.

Napier Bridge, Adyar bridge, Hamilton bridge, Maraimalai adigal bridge, Thiru Vi Ka bridge  and more….. Chennai has no great rivers but – still there are many bridges.. and in someways they are infamous too….  not because they are  old, unkempt, writhing under the flow of traffic… In Dec 2012 at the peak of Carnatic music season tragedy befell on one of the singers – Nithyasree.. in a sad development Mr V Mahadevan, husband of the popular Carnatic vocalist, committed suicide by jumping into the Adyar river from the Kotturpuram bridge- it was mid day and reportedly some people saw the car stop, a man coming out and jumping into the river.  The fact is Mr Mahadevan is not alone…….. he only joined many others who had leapt from the Chennai bridges ending their lives…

Earlier there were reports that in view of drastic rise in suicides by jumping off bridges in 2013, Chennai Corporation began increasing the height of parapet walls of these facilities.  Work across the bridge in Chintadripet was reported to be increased by 3.5 feet.  Now The Hindu reports that Corporation of Chennai  proposes to  raise the parapet wall of Thiru-vi-ka bridge across the Adyar,  as it had  become a suicide hotspot.  The corporation’s decision came after a 40-year-old man killed himself by leaping into the river from the bridge on Tuesday night in the fourth such suicide since last year.

Corporation officials said police requested them to raise the parapet wall of the bridge to deter suicide attempts. “We haven’t completed work on the Kottupuram bridge as yet. Although we have raised the wall, we are yet to set up steel barricades ,” said a corporation official. The civic body is coordinating with suicide prevention organisation Sneha and police to identify bridges that have become suicide hotspots, the official said.  An official is quoted as saying that raising these walls and setting up barricades is expensive; reportedly it cost  Rs.80 lakh to raise the parapet wall of the Kotturpuram bridge and  has allotted Rs.1.2 crore for the project at Adyar, which includes setting up 1-metre-high steel grilles. The corporation maintains 262 bridges including 65 high-level bridges, 35 foot bridges and 13 grade separators.

Corporation officials said although experts are of the view that constructing a barrier would curb suicide, several people had written to them to say a barricade would block their view of the river and a wall would be ugly. Suicide is never a solution; it does appear that mere raising of the height of the bridge – can perhaps stop accidental falls, but never intentional suicide…………..

Thiru Vi. Ka. Bridge is the road bridge across the Adyar River connecting Mylapore / Mandaveli / RA puram in the north of the river to the South – Besant Nagar, Gandhi nagar, Thiruvanmiyur.    The new bridge in 1973  was named after  activist Thiru. V. Kalyanasundaram,  replacing Elphinstone Bridge which  currently is  not in use.  Thiruvarur Viruttachala Kalyanasundaram(1883 – 1953), better known by his Tamil initials Thiru. Vi Ka was a Tamil scholar, essayist and activist. He is esteemed for the strong humanism of his essays, the analytical depth of his commentaries on classical Tamil literature and philosophy, and the clear, fluid style of his prose. Elphinstone Bridge  was constructed in 1840 and named after the then Governor of Madras Elphinstone.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th Feb 2015.

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