Third suicide thwarted by Metro operator

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Local,DC,Virginia,Liz Essley,Naomi Jagoda,Metro,Metro and Traffic

Metro train operators stopped trains from hitting people on the tracks in three different episodes in a four-day span.

An Orange Line operator spotted a man in the train's path at the Ballston station late Monday night and pulled the emergency brake. The 44-year-old would-be suicide suffered lacerations on his hands, Metro officials said, and was taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation but was not seriously injured.

After the incident, single-tracking occurred between the Ballston and East Falls Church stations for about 90 minutes, causing minor delays.

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
» Expressing no reason for living or a lack of sense of purpose
» Anxiety, agitation, inability 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
2009 14 cases: 11 deaths and 3 attempts
2010 5 cases: 3 deaths and 2 attempts
2011 10 cases: 6 deaths and 4 attempts
2012 11 cases: 5 deaths and 6 attempts
2013: 5 cases: 2 deaths and 3 attempts
*As of Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The incident followed a similar one Saturday night, when a man put himself in the path of a train at Judiciary Square. The train made "minor contact" with the man, who was treated for non-life-threatening injuries on the platform before being taken to a local hospital, Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said.

And on Friday night, a woman placed herself on the tracks at Bethesda. But a train approaching the station got a report of a woman on the tracks and was able to stop just outside the station, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. Police took the woman into custody after she refused to move from the track bed; she was later taken to a hospital for an "involuntary committal," Stessel said.

Metro started training station managers and train operators in suicide intervention after a rash of cases in 2009, when there were 11 deaths and three attempts. But Stessel said he couldn't say whether any of the training helped the three operators who stopped the trains.

"The train operators did what all train operators would do. Any train operator would apply the emergency brakes and do their best to stop the train," Stessel said. "It's a question of the individual circumstances of each event."

Metro also runs a hot line for those feeling suicidal to call and talk about problems, advertised on posters in stations.

The transit agency had two deaths by suicide on the system earlier this year and five last year. In addition to costing lives, suicides on Metro can lead to long delays for riders and emotional trauma for Metro employees and witnesses.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner
Author:

Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner