Illness, financial hardship, family crises – the reasons that lead someone to commit suicide are varied and, in some cases, never known. Signs located at all SEPTA Regional Rail and rail transit stations let the public know that assistance is available for those contemplating suicide via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK.
SEPTA is highlighting this resource following four unfortunate incidents last week in which trespassers on tracks were struck and killed by Regional Rail and Market-Frankford Line trains. Three of these incidents have been confirmed as suicides. An investigation into the cause and manner of death in the other incident is ongoing.
SEPTA started installing the Lifeline signs in 2014, and there are now more than 1,000 posted throughout the Authority’s five-county service area.
“More than half of the fatalities on SEPTA’s rail system each year are ruled suicides,” said Jim Fox, SEPTA’s Assistant General Manager of System Safety. “By placing the Lifeline signs at our stations, we hope that people who might think suicide is their only option will see that help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
In addition to the Lifeline signs, SEPTA’s “Make the Safe Choice” campaign holds frequent outreach events to help make customers aware of the dangers of trespassing on the tracks. These safety messages are now being sent directly to customers through the new SEPTA Transit Watch app, which also provides a new resource for riders to report unsafe or unusual activity to police. Customers can also call 911 or use a station call box if they see a person in distress or engaged in unusual activity.
SEPTA is also working on ways to improve communications with customers who experience service disruptions caused by trespasser fatalities. To protect the safety of police, SEPTA personnel and other first-responders on the scene, a temporary service suspension is usually necessary. SEPTA posts service alerts on its website and on social media, and announcements are made to local news media and at train stations.
“Each of these unfortunate incidents is unique, and information from the scene often changes rapidly, so it can take some time to accurately determine service impacts,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “SEPTA is committed to providing riders with the information they need as soon as possible, however, it is important to remember that these are very sensitive situations that affect local families.”
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