Home Los Angeles News What can Disneyland do to help prevent suicides?

What can Disneyland do to help prevent suicides?

What can Disneyland do to help prevent suicides?

The second suicide in three months at Disneyland has raised the possibility that the Happiest Place on Earth will have to take proactive measures to help prevent people from taking their lives at the Anaheim theme park resort.

A woman who jumped or fell from the Mickey & Friends parking structure on Saturday evening is the second apparent suicide at the Disneyland garage since December and the fifth since 2010.

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Marney Schoenfeld, 46, of Scottsdale, Arizona, died Saturday night, Feb. 18, after she jumped or fell from a Disneyland parking structure.

Christopher Christensen, a Huntington Beach elementary school principal who was facing misdemeanor child endangerment and battery charges, jumped to his death from a Disneyland parking structure in December.

The six-level Mickey & Friends parking structure with 10,000 spaces was the world’s largest parking structure when it opened in 2000. The adjacent 5,500-space Pixar Pals garage opened in 2019.

There are more than 47,000 deaths by suicide each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 2% of suicides involve people who jump or fall to their deaths.

What can Disneyland do to help prevent suicides?

Suicide prevention experts and parking organizations say there are five steps that can be taken to deter suicides at parking garages.

1) Increase security patrols

Most suicides by jumping from parking garages occurred at a time when the facilities were open to the public and with routine patrols in the area, according to the International Parking and Mobility Institute.

Increasing the number and frequency of security patrols gives the perception that a suicidal person will be spotted and stopped before jumping, according to the IPMI “Suicide in Parking Facilities: Prevention, Response, and Recovery” manual.

IPMI recommends parking an empty marked patrol car on the roof of a garage to create the illusion that security officers will soon return.

2) Watch for signs of distress

Security officers can’t be everywhere at all times. Closed-circuit television camera coverage can help spot a person displaying suspicious behavior and give security staff time to intervene.

Motion-activated cameras at key locations can help alert security officers of potentially dangerous activity.

The IPMI manual recommends establishing a zero-tolerance policy preventing anyone from loitering on the roof of a garage who is not coming or going from a vehicle.

3) Display suicide hotline signs

Signs can be placed on garages at high-probability locations providing resources like crisis hotlines, intervention services and suicide prevention counseling.

The signs should be clear, simple, include a call to action, provide a single resource and promise to listen, according to the IPMI manual.

Opinions differ among suicide prevention experts about the effectiveness of warning signs at high-profile locations.

4) Install physical barriers

Fencing, screening, grating, glass, cabling and netting can help prevent suicide at parking garages, according to the IPMI manual.

Landscaping like bushes, grass and trees can be planted around the garage perimeter to block landing areas. Awnings can serve as similar deterrents over large concrete areas.

5) Provide staff training

Garage staff should be trained on how to react if they encounter a potentially suicidal person and how to respond following a suicide attempt, according to the IPMI manual.

Suicide-prevention groups can help employees cope with the trauma of witnessing a suicide and provide training on how to prevent future attempts.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 on your phone or by visiting 988lifeline.org.