New book explores Toronto’s Bloor Viaduct bridge history

Black woman reading book

Paul McLaughlin, an award-winning writer and course director at York University’s Writing Department, has released The Suicide Magnet: Inside the Battle to Erect a Safety Barrier on Toronto’s Bloor Viaduct, which details the history of the barrier and the citizen volunteers who advocated for its existence.

Paul McLaughlin
Paul McLaughlin

From 1918 to 1997, Toronto’s Prince Edward Viaduct (more commonly referred to as the Bloor Viaduct) was once considered the second most used suicide bridge in North America. During that time frame nearly 500 individuals used it to end their lives.

McLaughlin’s new book recounts the story of how a group of volunteers led by two citizens – Al Birney and Michael McCamus ­– underwent a six-year journey to advocate to help those with mental health challenges, and push Toronto’s City Hall to fund and construct a suicide barrier on the bridge.

The Suicide Magnet is the latest achievement for McLaughlin in an award-winning career that has spanned more than four decades of writing and teaching. He is the author of several books, numerous magazine articles, several plays, and has also worked as a broadcaster and producer at CBC Radio. He has been teaching writing – currently third- and fourth-year courses in the Professional Writing Program – at York University since 2006. His most recent book, published in 2022, was an extension of his teaching called Asking the Best Questions: A comprehensive interviewing handbook for journalists, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, and anyone who asks questions under pressure.

For more information about The Suicide Magnet, or to secure a copy of McLaughlin’s new book, visit Dundurn Press.