Media Contact: Christine Dunn, 650.508.6238
Caltrain Installs New Suicide Prevention Signs
As part of its continuing effort to improve safety around the railroad and in recognition of Rail Safety Month, Caltrain installed the first of 250 signs today with a hotline number to a local crisis intervention agency. The signs are part of national study to test the effectiveness of signs in preventing suicides on railroads.
Caltrain has joined the American Association of Suicidiology, a national organization dedicated to suicide prevention, in a study that includes two other railroads on the East Coast. AAS Executive Director Lanny Berman said, “The AAS applauds Caltrain’s partnership in preventing the tragic waste of human life by suicide. Evidence from other countries has shown that preventing suicides on railroad rights of way is possible. Together with Youth and Family Enrichment Services, we hope to be able to similarly show here in the States that lives in despair can be redirected to be lives of meaning and value.”
The signs will be posted along a 10-mile stretch of the right of way between Menlo Park and Mountain View. The hot line number on the new signs is routed directly to the Youth and Family Services Crisis Intervention Center in San Carlos. The calls will be tracked to determine if the signs are an effective tool for suicide prevention.
The signs, which will cost $110,000, will be placed on fences, gates, at grade crossings, on station platforms and along the property line.
Although Caltrain has had similar signs on the right of way since 2001, the previous signs directed callers to an 800 number that used letters instead of numbers, a memory device that is no longer useful on newer phones.
Caltrain intensified its efforts to prevent suicide on the railroad after last year, when four members of the community were lost in a six-month period. “Whenever a fatality occurs, we are profoundly saddened,” said Caltrain Board Member Omar Ahmad. “As a member of the community it is important for Caltrain to participate in the community effort to address this complex and troubling problem.”
Initially, Caltrain spearheaded meetings to bring community representatives together to collaborate and share resources and continues to be an active participant in three community mental health organizations. The design of the signs as well as the location of the pilot project was guided by input from local mental health professionals.
The signs are part of Caltrain’s continuing commitment to safety on the right of way through education, engineering and enforcement.
Caltrain is a member of Operation Lifesaver, an international railroad safety program. Since 2006, Caltrain staff has made Operation Lifesaver presentations to more than 15,000 people including students, community groups, police and fire officials, elected officials and civic leaders.
Transit Police deputies who patrol the Caltrain right of way have been trained in crisis intervention to help them recognize people who may be a threat to themselves or others. Eleven people were removed from the right of way this year and referred to treatment.
Caltrain has continuously made safety improvements over the years, including improving grade crossings and modernizing stations. Since 2006, Caltrain has spent $4.2 million to install 61,000 feet of fencing along its right of way.
Members of the public who would like information about rail safety education and tips can call 650.508.7934 or visit www.caltrain.com.
Caltrain is a commuter rail line operating between San Francisco and San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. Average weekday ridership on the mix of 90 local, limited and express weekday trains is 38,000. Local, hourly service is provided on Saturdays and Sundays.
Caltrain is owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, a partnership of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.