Metro highlights ongoing anti-suicide campaign during holiday season

Metro CEO Art Leahy speaks at the suicide prevention event this morning. (Photo: Luis Inzunza / Metro)

Metro CEO Art Leahy speaks at the suicide prevention event this morning. (Photo: Luis Inzunza / Metro)

A press conference was held this morning with officials from Metro, Metrolink and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services to increase awareness of the three agencies’ ongoing suicide prevention campaign.

The timing of the event coincides with the beginning of the holiday season, a time of year where some people may feel more sad or depressed.

Since its inception in 2013, the multi-agency campaign has helped to reduce the number of suicides on Metro Rail — just one since the campaign began — and Metrolink commuter rail, which is down from 19 suicides in 2013 to four in 2014.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or are struggling to overcome a difficult period in your life, don’t be afraid to call the Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-4747 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.

Here’s the press release from this morning’s event:

Metrolink, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, and Metro officials highlighted a suicide prevention campaign encouraging people who feel sadness or depression during the holiday period with a message of “reach out, there is help” this morning at Union Station.

“Metrolink’s first and foremost priority is safety, and sadly, this agency has dealt with loss of life far too often,” said Metrolink Board Chair and City of Highland Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon. “But there is an area beyond our scope of expertise and because of that, we need people to know there is help long before getting near our tracks or trains.”

This has been a long-term effort for all three agencies.

Metro and Didi Hirsch have partnered in a successful anti-suicide effort that has seen incidents decline dramatically on the Metro Blue Line.

“In 2013, Metro embarked on an extensive campaign to reach out to our passengers and the public with suicide prevention signs and resources,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “Since then, the number of suicides on the Metro Rail system is one. While even one is too many, Metro’s and Didi Hirsch’s efforts have saved many lives.”

In November, Metrolink installed station posters throughout its system with the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services (877-727-4747) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number (800-273-TALK), along with the message “Reach out. There is help.” In the past year, 130 people who saw the signs called the Didi Hirsch Crisis Line for help.

“People attempt suicide because they’re in terrible psychological pain and can’t think of any other solution,” said Didi Hirsch President and CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry. “We know this because calls to our Crisis Line from people contemplating suicide—and worried friends and family—increase every time the number is advertised. If we all learn the warning signs of suicide and how to respond, we can save lives.”

Two years ago, 19 people died by suicide in a Metrolink train involved incident. The agency began to implement a wide array of policies and procedures to reduce these tragedies. These efforts have lowered the number officially to four (4) in 2014 across Metrolink’s 512-mile system.

Metrolink expanded its active participation with Operation Lifesaver, while conducting outreach to schools, in the agency’s effort to reduce suicide by train. Metrolink also trained its front-line employees of warning signs, empowering staff with what to do if they come across someone in distress or crisis.

These tragedies are preventable, and the most effective way preventing suicide is identifying early warning signs so others can intervene.

Despite the efforts of transportation agencies partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the California Department of Mental Health, the Suicide Prevention Network and of course Didi Hirsh Mental Health Services suicide still occurs.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner/Coroner, nearly 100 people have ended their lives by placing themselves in the path of a Metro Rail, Union Pacific, Metrolink, Amtrak, or BNSF train in the county since 1991.



10 replies

  1. Glad Metro is being active about this public health issue. But I’ve always wondered why major infrastructures (bridges, trains) seem to draw suicidal individuals. Or rather, why they would choose particular infrastructures to kill themselves.

  2. Oh suicides by jumping in front of trains won’t happen here in LA they said. That stuff will never happen here they said.

    What Metro should’ve done:

    Learn from the experts who’ve already had years and decades of experience running mass transit and knowing all the problems that come with it.

    • In the Bay Area, people just jump on the tracks. Those expensive doors would do no good here or there. But they are great in cities where the platform is jammed with people.

    • Most of LA’s rail transit stations and tracks are outdoors and more easily accessible, so these magical glass doors you showed us won’t be as effective. Though they can be effective in red line stations.

      • Kinda explains the same rationale why Metro should’ve learned from the experts beforehand why it wasn’t a great idea to build trains at grade in the first place, ain’t it? You know, stuff like thinking building rail on surface streets shared with cars like as it was the case back in the 1940s LA makes complete logical failure in a 10 million+ population county that has been built around the automobile in 21st century LA?

    • “Oh suicides by jumping in front of trains won’t happen here in LA they said”

      Who said that?

      As others have stated, that system doesn’t really work for light rail stations, only for Subways… Which LA has 1.5 of.

      Obviously suicides on subway platforms are a tragedy, they are also expensive for Metro and traumatic for the operator, but installing those doors at every Red/Purple Line Station would cost a pretty penny. And I feel a significant percentage of Metro riders would not support the limited funding available being spent on that, especially when many riders are against new rail development in the first place.

      • “but installing those doors at every Red/Purple Line Station would cost a pretty penny”

        And yet oddly, other cities around the world are capable of doing exactly that, all the while expanding more rail services.