The death of 16-year-old Andre Courtemanche has prompted calls for barriers to be erected at the Goldstream Trestle. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

The death of 16-year-old Andre Courtemanche has prompted calls for barriers to be erected at the Goldstream Trestle. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Calls for changes, barriers at Goldstream Trestle after Langford teen’s death

Suicide barriers can save lives: expert weighs in

Talks about the possibility of erecting a barrier at the Goldstream Trestle began this week in the wake of a Langford teen’s death.

The Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) says it is working to put together a committee with West Shore RCMP, Langford Fire Rescue and the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to discuss the feasibility of putting barriers in place after the body of Andre Courtemanche, 16, was found Jan. 9 – eight days after he went missing from his family’s home.

Andre’s family says the teen struggled with anxiety and depression, both exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since his death, they have begun fundraising for barriers at the trestle bridge, calling for physical changes to the trestle alongside improved access to mental health resources.

READ ALSO: Your guide to mental health resources in Greater Victoria

Brianna Turner, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Victoria, says barriers can be effective when it comes to preventing suicide in a specific location.

“A suicidal crisis is a bit like an incredibly powerful wave, and part of the goal with suicide prevention is focusing on people who are in the wave,” Turner says. “If we can buy them a couple hours or a couple days, those feelings are likely to change. I think that’s where barriers can be really effective, it’s really about buying that time to help the person get through to the other side of the wave and engage some of their support.”

Turner says many people who consider or attempt suicide can go on to live full, happy lives without another attempt.

“The tragedy of suicide is that it’s not reversible … It’s an action that someone takes at the peak of those emotions and those feelings.”

READ ALSO: ‘Please come home:’ Langford parents desperately search for missing teen

Victoria man Vincent Gornall joins the call for barriers and says he wishes he had done so earlier. Gornall’s sister, Breanne Gornall, 32, died by suicide at the trestle last summer following an extensive mental health struggle.

“I would like to see, at the Goldstream Trestle, a suicide prevention barrier built to the best standards in the industry, so that people stop dying at a known dangerous location,” he says. “I heard from several people after my sister died that other people have died there previous to that … I have a social responsibility to try to make things better.”

Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey says rescues and recoveries at the trestle are physically and mentally challenging. He’s open-minded about barriers but says any changes should be balanced with mental health support.

“It’s important we find out the root causes of why people are feeling this level of despair,” he says. “For the sake of my members and for the sake of the community, I strongly want to see some positive change.”

READ ALSO: ‘It’s heartbreaking:’ Calls for increased mental health support following death of Langford teen

ICF CEO Larry Stevenson notes that the trestle – despite being used frequently as a hiking destination – is dangerous and on private property.

“It’s a fairly complex issue,” he says. “We still need to be able to access that bridge, we still use it for maintenance purposes.”

ICF workers are not allowed on the trestle without proper harnesses and safety equipment.

But Stevenson says the ICF wants to examine the possibilities – and that’s where the committee comes in.

“I think the answer comes when we get people around the table who are familiar with the issue and can provide some guidance … We are not going to run away from it. We need to find a way to move forward.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the provincial suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-suicide (1-800-784-2433), or visit crisislines.bc.ca to find local mental health and crisis resources.

Black Press Media has also prepared mental health and overdose prevention resource guides filled with information specific to Greater Victoria, you can find them under e-editions at goldstreamgazette.com.

READ ALSO: West Shore first responders raise alarm after dramatic increase in mental health calls


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of LangfordGoldstream Provincial Parkmental health

Just Posted

Ecko Aleck, recipient of $5,000 award for Indigenous entrepreneurs presented by Young Entrepreneurs Symposium. (photo courtesy of Adam Ziorio Photography)
Qualicum Beach woman one of 20 winners in nationwide challenge for Indigenous entrepreneurs

Ecko Aleck plans to create youth council with paid consultation

Tim Mocks, owner of Glenora’s Windhorse Farm, is a member of Regeneration Canada, a group of Canadian farmers who believe the nation’s soil is under threat from inorganic and chemical processes. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island farmer giving back to the land, not just taking from it

Regeneration Canada launches initiative to ensure health and sustainability of our food supply

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Vancouver Island Symphony conductor Pierre Simard is releasing his new synthwave album ‘Plandemic’ on March 5. (Photo courtesy Olivia Simard)
Vancouver Island Symphony conductor releasing side-project EP of electronic music

Pierre Simard, recording as Plan Omega, presents ‘Plandemic’

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

One of the approximately 1,200 street lights within the city of Parksville that will be changed to 3000 Kelvin LED under BC Hydro’s Streetlight Replacement Project. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville to go ahead with 3000K streetlights for BC Hydro project

Concerns about excessive brightness and resident privacy raised

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

LaRae Richards loads an order for deliver via Uber Eats Wednesday afternoon at Red Onion Burgers in Mountlake Terrace on May 17, 2017.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Uber Eats service area expands to Saanich Peninsula

Delivery platform launched in Victoria in 2018

OrcaFest parade 2019. (North Island Gazette file photo)
COVID-19: Port McNeill’s annual OrcaFest cancelled again

“We promise you that once we are safely able to do so, OrcaFest will be back!!”

Matt Simpson at the Chemainus Ball Park where he spent a lot of his development time over the years. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Cool transition to college baseball in Wisconsin for Island ballplayer

Chemainus baseball product anxious to get going after last season lost due to COVID

Most Read