Tower Block Suicide Trio ‘Tied Together With Rope’

Tower block suicide trio 'tied together with rope'

Melanie Reid
From The Times
March 9, 2010

Three people who killed themselves by leaping from the 15th floor balcony of a Glasgow tower block are reported to have tied themselves together with rope.

The bodies of the woman and two men, said by other residents at the Red Road flats complex to be failed asylum-seekers from Kosovo aged in their 20s or 30s, were found on the ground at the foot of the building at around 8am on Sunday.

There were also reports that a wardrobe had been thrown over the balcony first to break through the security netting intended to prevent suicides.

The 31-storey block in Springburn, one of eight scheduled for demolition, is used to house asylum-seekers and refugees. Occupants include people from Kosovo, Africa, Asia, the former Soviet Union, Iran and Iraq.

Police said yesterday that the deaths were not being treated as suspicious.

The Borders Agency refused to comment on the incident, while MPs and charity groups said that they were unaware of anyone who was in distress as a result of having been denied asylum.

One resident, Elaine Sandford, 40, said she believed that the deceased faced deportation. She said: I think they had a letter through the door that said they were coming back for them.

You only think you see these things on the telly. The same thing happened last year from another block but it wasnt as bad as this.

Robina Qureshi, from the Glasgow charity Positive Action in Housing, said that if the suicides had anything to do with the Border Agency telling the victims that they could not stay in the country, then the agency was culpable and there needed to be a rethink of asylum policy.

Willie Bain, the Glasgow North East Labour MP, called for improvements to the way asylum cases are processed.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: What I think is important is that we improve the asylum system so that we get through these claims quicker.

Theres been a lot of progress made since 1997 _ about 60 per cent of the standard cases are now dealt with within six months, but we need to continue to improve the system.

Certainly my office have not heard any representations over the weekend from families who have said that they were in dire trouble of being deported.

He added: Its been a tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family and to the community here who have obviously been devastated by what they have witnessed and heard in the last 24 hours.

Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, described it as an appalling tragedy but cautioned that, if the deceased were asylum-seekers, the system had very rarely proved to be wrong.

If we are going to have an asylum system that actually works we have to have one where peoples situation is fully considered and a final decision made on the facts. You cant make that judgment a hostage on the basis of threats by the indivudals to take their own lives.

The only thing we can consider is whether they are at risk of persecution at home. You cant consider how well they have integrated into the community, whether they are nice people, these things are not relevant. We are not talking about an immigration service, we are talking about an asylum system.

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: Inquiries are ongoing to establish the identities of the three people involved and post mortem examinations will take place in due course to establish the exact cause of death, however, at this time there does not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.

Paul Martin, the Glasgow Springburn Labour MSP, said: This is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of myself and the community are with the families of those who died in this tragic event.

The building is owned by Glasgow Housing Association, which lets the majority of flats to the YMCA.

A YMCA Glasgow spokesman said: YMCA Glasgow are co-operating with the police investigation into the deaths at our accommodation at 63 Petershill Drive, Glasgow.

All the staff within Petershill Drive are devastated by what has happened and our thoughts go out to the relatives of the deceased and to all the other residents.

We will be working with all the agencies involved to provide ongoing support to people who use our services.


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'Triple suicide' at Glasgow tower block