Support for suicide prevention wide-ranging following Chicago conference

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CHICAGO – Meeting with news media at a rail safety conference where he was the keynote speaker, Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory said he would “champion” the DuPage Rail Safety Council’s goal of reducing trespassing and suicide deaths on railroad property by 50 percent by 2026. “I am totally committed to it,” he says.

The organization undertook the campaign in 2016, citing the success of the federal Highway-Rail Crossing Safety Action Plan in reaching the goal of reducing crossing incidents and fatalities by 50 percent.

Dr. Lanny Wilson, the council chairman, noted that while highway-rail crossing statistics have steadily improved in recent years, trespasser and suicide statistics have worsened.

The daylong biennial conference, attended by more than 100 safety advocates, government and railroad officials, was designed to discuss prevention strategies, mental health awareness, and law-enforcement efforts to cut trespass and suicide incidents.

Several officials spoke on behalf of increased training of railroad personnel to better enable them to intervene in potential life-threatening situations.

In Chicago, Metra Chairman Norman Carlson said the commuter rail agency has documented 102 successful interventions with implementation of its mental health awareness program and “Question, Persuade and Refer” training.

In Britain, Network Rail has reported significant decreases in rail-related suicides with a combination of training; installation of physical deterrents and use of drones; and partnership with the emotional-help organization Samaritans.

“Our core belief is that suicide is not inevitable,” said James Buckley-Waterman, senior managing consultant with Network Rail Consulting. ‘We can work collectively to reduce the number of incidents.”

You can read more about railroads' suicide prevention programs in the March 2018 issue.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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