SWITZERLAND: Swiss Federal Railways tackle suicide taboo

May 22, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The Local

In a departure from its previous policy, Switzerland’s state-owned railway recently held a press conference about the problem of suicide deaths on the nation’s railroad tracks. “We think we must speak about it publicly to improve the prevention,” said Andreas Meyer, CEO of Swiss Federal Railways. Traditionally, both the company and the Swiss press have refrained from reporting suicides in an effort to avoid triggering vulnerable people to make their own attempts. The focus of this communication effort, Meyer said, is on informing the public of the actions being taken to prevent more suicides. These measures include training railroad employees in suicide prevention, participating in a nationwide campaign to promote a crisis hotline, launching patrols to intercept potential suicides, and installing barriers to impede access to tracks in specific areas. Thirty “Intervention teams” are prepared to help those involved when a suicide does occur. Last year, the company established a central office to coordinate its suicide prevention efforts within the country and to share information and research with other railways.