USF gives update on suicide prevention measures for parking garages

All three phases are expected to be implemented by early 2024. ORACLE PHOTO/JULIA SAAD

USF is planning to implement a three-phase plan to improve the safety of its parking garages, University Media Relations Manager Kevin Watler wrote in a July 7 email to The Oracle.

The update comes after an “apparent suicide” occurred on July 6 at Beard garage. As potentially the second suicide to occur at the garage since September, the university plans to install protective fencing on higher levels of the on-campus garages, according to the email.

“As part of USF’s commitment to the safety and well-being of our community, the university is currently implementing a multi-phased approach to enhance parking garages on the Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses with additional protective measures,” Watler wrote.

USF initially announced it would implement protective fencing to the on-campus parking garages in September.

This updated plan includes four garages – Beard, Crescent, Collins and Laurel – plus the 5th Ave Garage on St. Pete campus, according to the email. This plan will be carried out in three phases. 

Phase one, which was completed in June 2023, included adding large trees and shrubbery as a buffer around all feasible garage perimeters and installing suicide prevention signage at the upper levels of the garages.

Phase two includes adding protective fencing to the top floor of each garage, in addition to adding awnings in areas where trees and shrubs could not be installed during phase one, according to the email. USF aims to complete these changes by August for Beard and Crescent, September for Collins and Laurel and October for the 5th Ave Parking Garage, the email read.

Watler wrote that adding these measures will require architectural and engineering design to ensure that the “integrity of the pre-existing structure is maintained” and that materials are safely installed.

Phase three is projected to be complete by late 2023 or early 2024, according to the email. It includes the installation of fencing between all garage floors level three and up.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.