The present study reviewed current efforts of commuter railroads to reduce or prevent suicide on railways and discussed preventative activities affecting rail related suicides. Primary preventative methods have included erecting physical barriers, posting warning signs with telephone numbers for hotline crisis counseling, using video surveillance on platforms, and training key personnel to identify and intervene with at-risk individuals. However, little or no evidence has been reported to demonstrate the efficacy of these methods.
The present study also sought to provide information about community awareness and attitudes toward suicide on the railroads and survey data collected from 498 respondents demonstrate that community members feel a strong sense of responsibility for assisting those who are suicidal. However, survey data also revealed a lower sense of self-confidence in knowing what to do to be helpful.
Pre-post surveys of railroad personnel involved in workplace suicide prevention training programs examined the effects of an employee training program with a large commuter railroad designed to identify and prevent rail related suicide. Results demonstrated that people who completed training obtained higher levels of self-efficacy with respect to understanding, identifying, and assisting people who appeared to be at risk for suicide. Program participants also demonstrated knowledge of the signs and symptoms and risk factors for suicide.
Recommendations for prevention strategies include continued efforts to identify hotspots and to erect barriers to reduce access to the railroad right-of-way, and for installing signage with warnings and contact information for crisis services. The use of drones equipped with video monitoring systems working in tandem with trespasser intrusion alert technology could be one way of dealing with more remote locations. Training programs for railroad employees designed to increase their confidence and skill intervening with suicidal individuals is also needed. Additionally railroads should maximize their prevention efforts by partnering with other groups devoted to preventing suicide as well as with government agencies. Suicide is a community-wide concern, community residents feel some responsibility for prevention, and railroads should not be expected to be the sole source of preventive activities for intentional fatalities by rail.
Security and Counterterrorism, Transit and Passenger Rail
Mineta Transportation Institute URL
Critical incidents, Epidemiology, Railroad safety, Suicide prevention, Trespassers
Patrick Sherry. "Remedial Actions to Prevent Suicides on Commuter and Metro Rail Systems" Mineta Transportation Institute Publications (2016).