CHICAGO (CBS) — Metra announced Wednesday its plan to develop and install suicide prevention signs at station platforms in an effort to deal with what the rail agency calls “a crisis.”
Metra is partnering with mental health experts to come up with ideas for what to put on the signs, aside from a suicide prevention hotline number. But, Chief Safety and Environmental Officer Hilary Konczal said it will include a message of hope. This is something that he said they have to do. WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports.
“It is the right thing to do. It is the responsible thing to do. We’ve gotten a lot of excellent feedback and support from the mental health community, so we feel this is the opportune time to take advantage of that expertise,” Konczal said.
“Whatever signage we display, or we come up with – that is sends a message of hope to the individual reading it.”
Train engineers sometimes make eye contact with suicide victims and the impact can be devastating.
“When someone dies on our tracks, it affects so many people – from the victim and their family to our engineers, conductors and first responders, to the customers who can be delayed on the train for up to three hours,” said Metra Board Chairman Norman Carlson. “This is a crisis in need of a long-term solution.”
There have been 16 suspected suicides by train this year. There were 20 last year and 19 the year before.
As part of its suicide prevention initiative, Metra will also provide training for front-line employees including engineers, conductors, ticket agents, customer service representatives and transportation managers on how to recognize individuals in despair and how to intervene. More than 350 Metra employees have participated in suicide awareness and prevention training since 2015.