CALIFORNIA: Caltrain, South Bay communities work to reduce suicides on train tracks

April 03, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  California


Each year, transit police in California’s South Bay area who have received crisis intervention training intervene in dozens of potentially suicidal incidents. A state Department of Transportation study showed that most suicides that involve the Caltrain railway system take place in this area, and the company has joined with community mental health organizations to step up suicide prevention efforts. “Interrupting a person’s progression around suicide thinking to acting is really important,” said Stephen Kaplan, director of San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. “If you can interrupt that and provide them with appropriate resources at that time, you have a pretty good chance.” In addition to training transit police, Caltrain has posted “There Is Help” signs with a crisis hotline number along the tracks, and has added 62,000 feet of fencing. Prevention efforts extend beyond the tracks to include Caltrain’s promotion of safe reporting guidelines and the implementation of crisis response plans by local schools to address the risk of suicide contagion.

Spark Extra: Read and share Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide developed collaboratively by national suicide prevention groups and media organizations.