Suicide raises concern about Columbia building safety codes
COLUMBIA - An examination of the barriers on the 5th and Walnut parking garage Wednesday showed safety barriers on the roof level incapable of preventing someone from jumping from the structure.
On Tuesday, a 91-year-old man jumped off the garage roof, resulting in his death. The Columbia Police Department reported the man’s death as a suicide.
The city of Columbia has ordinances in place that call for barriers on buildings and parking garages that reach a certain height.
“Buildings are constructed to be code compliant,” City of Columbia Community Relations Director Steven Sapp said. “Most of the garages are built under the code section that require a certain height of barriers.”
The garage on 5th and Walnut is supposed to be one of them.
It does have barriers to prevent people from falling or jumping off of the structure, but they are not all the same height. Some of the barriers along the roof of the garage do not stand above four feet, while others rise far as seven feet tall, preventing anyone from falling or jumping.
KOMU 8 found at least three reported suicides occurred at this parking garage in the last seven years.
Christy Hutton, assistant director for outreach and prevention at the MU Counseling Center, said more than 44,000 people die from suicide every year. She said mental health issues are typically the main causes of suicide, but there are others.
“We also know that sometimes people die of suicide and it’s response to a certain event that they weren’t expecting or something else that came along that they just simply weren’t able to cope with,” Hutton said.
The number for the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.