On Sunday, five human-shaped figures appeared to be climbing the suicide barriers of an Edmonton bridge.
No ono knows for sure who put them up or what the motive was behind them.
The life-size dummies were made from packing tape and appeared on the High Level Bridge, posing as though they were scaling the newly installed barriers.
The presumed hope is that they give light to mental health awareness.
According to Canadian Press, an official with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ione Challborn, shares the same sentiment, but says that the message the sculptures sent is confusing.
“I know there has been reaction to the barriers. People have been concerned that the walkways are not as wide as they were for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Challborn, the executive director with the association’s branch in Edmonton. “If that installation was to draw attention to that argument, that would distress me because I think the barriers are in place to protect lives.”
The sculptures were considered vandalism and removed within hours.
The presumption is that the sculptures were designed as either a tribute to those who have lost their lives or a tactic to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health issues.
Of course, if the sculptures were some sick joke, or a poorly-thought out art installation gone wrong, they definitely didn’t go over well with those who have lost loved ones to suicide on that very bridge.
The barriers have been a subject of controversy in the city. They were erected in response to the number of people who have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge, but have in turn narrowed the shared pathways used by pedestrians and cyclists.
According to city officials, there were nine incidents of suicide, attempted suicide or sudden death at the High Level Bridge between 2008 and 2012. They also said the suicide prevention emergency phones on the bridge have been used 44 times since June.
Critics say that the barriers are easy to get around and won’t prevent a determined person from committing suicide.
“Where I hope the conversation goes is deep compassion for people affected by suicide and advocacy for suicide awareness and support,” Challborn said.
This isn’t the first time that artists have used the bridge to promote suicide awareness. The short film ‘The High Level Bridge‘ tackled suicide and was an official selection at numerous film festivals, including Sundance and Toronto.