The primary goals of this report are to discuss measures to prevent suicides on commuter and metro rail systems, and to outline an approach for suicide prevention on rail systems. Based on existing literature and analysis of data obtained from the Metrolink system in Southern California, it was found that most suicides occur near station platforms and near access points to the track. Suicides occurred most frequently when relatively more trains were in operation and in areas of high population density. There do not appear to be suicide “hot spots” (e.g., linked to mental hospitals in the proximity, etc.), based on data analyzed for U.S. systems. The suicide prevention measures range from relatively inexpensive signs posting call-for-help suicide hotline information to costly platform barriers that physically prevent people from jumping onto tracks in front of trains. Other prevention measures fall within this range, such as hotlines available at high frequency suicide locations, or surveillance systems that can report possible suicide attempts and provide the opportunity for intervention tactics. Because of the relatively low number of suicides on rail systems, as compared to the overall number of suicides in general, a cost-effective strategy for preventing suicides on rail systems should be approached in a very focused manner. The prevention measures executed by the rail authorities should be focused on the suicides occurring on the rail systems themselves, while the broader problem of suicides should be left to community-based prevention efforts. Moreover, prevention measures, such as surveillance and response, could “piggyback” on surveillance and response systems used for other purposes on the rail systems to make such projects economically feasible.
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