Man commits suicide by Metro train

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Local,DC,Transportation,Liz Essley,Naomi Jagoda,Metro

A suicide during the morning rush at the busy Gallery Place Metro station snarled commutes and led to packed platforms Wednesday.

A 44-year-old Arlington man was fatally struck after he put himself in the path of a Metro train at the station at 8:10 a.m., transit agency officials said. It's Metro's policy not to release the names of suicide victims.

It was the first suicide during morning rush on Metro in more than a year.

The man was killed by a Yellow Line train headed in the direction of Mt. Vernon Square. He was caught on surveillance camera putting himself on the train tracks, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

Need help?
The American Association of Suicidology says the best intervention comes before a person heads to the subway. The group urges friends, family and co-workers to take seriously warning signs that include:
» Increased alcohol or drug use
» No reason for living or lack of sense of purpose
» Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
» Withdrawal from friends, family and society
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's toll-free number, 800-273-TALK (8255), for direct help or guidance on how to intervene.
Suicides by Metro train
200914 cases: 11 deaths and 3 attempts
20105 cases: 3 deaths and 2 attempts
201110 cases: 6 deaths and 4 attempts
201211 cases: 5 deaths and 6 attempts
2013: 2 cases: 2 deaths
*As of Wednesday

Yellow and Green line trains single-tracked for nearly three hours between the Mt. Vernon Square and Archives stations as police and firemen responded, a medical examiner removed the body, and crews cleaned up the tracks.

Metro was forced to convert a few Yellow Line trains to Blue Line trains, as trains were backed up waiting to get onto the Yellow Line bridge crossing the Potomac. Riders reported massive delays just getting onto trains and tweeted that several trains offloaded, packing platforms at the Pentagon and Pentagon City stations, as well as at Gallery Place.

"Pretty ridiculous to pay peak fares for a 15 min commute that takes 1 hour+. Next time I'll just swim across the Potomac to VA," tweeted rider Ben Barasky using the Twitter handle @Bbarasky.

But Metro said it followed normal procedure.

"It's not uncommon for trains to strategically turn back to maintain service on the rest of the line when you're dealing with a service disruption," Stessel said.

Metro started using both tracks again at 10:50 a.m., and delays continued until about 11:30, Stessel said.

The incident is the second suicide on the Metrorail system this year, following five deaths and six failed suicide attempts in 2012. But suicides that snag so many riders' commutes during peak times are more rare. The last suicide during the morning rush hour was on Jan. 6, 2012, at the Van Dorn Street station on the Blue Line.

Metro pledged to fight the problem of suicides after a rash of cases in 2009. The transit agency is training employees in suicide prevention and advertises for a hot line that suicidal riders can call to talk to someone.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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