Metro suicide toll mounts amid slowed prevention program

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro is months behind on a plan to fight suicides on its system, even as more riders try to kill themselves by jumping in front of trains. Two more were struck just last week.

The transit agency has trained only about 180 of 960 station managers and train operators to spot suicidal riders under a $250,000 program to fight the attempts, even though the plan was approved 16 months ago.

It has yet to post suicide hot line numbers in its stations, part of a public outreach program that was supposed to begin last January.

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.

It also was given a nearly $70,000 report from the American Association of Suicidology  in June, outlining methods for how Metro could prevent the attempts through policy changes, surveillance, data collection, lighting and public outreach.

"My guess is it's sitting on the shelf," said Alan Berman, the executive director of the Washington-based association.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency has used some of the recommendations from the report for how to train workers on how to spot and intervene with suicidal riders. Metro declined to release the report, saying it contained sensitive information that would need to be redacted.

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