LA's transit agencies see success with suicide prevention campaign

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The rail lines that crisscross Southern California were built to move commuters and freight. But tragically, railroads are also used by people who take their own lives, and local transit agencies want people to know that there is help.

"There is help long before a person gets near our tracks or trains," said Metrolink Chair Larry McCallon.

Officials with Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak highlighted an anti-suicide campaign at a news conference on Wednesday that takes on added significance as the holiday season approaches.

"When someone is thinking of ending their life, it's not that they really want to die. It's that they're in so much psychological pain that they can't think of any other solution," said Kita Curry with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.

In 2012, 19 people died in suicides that involved a Metrolink train. The agency has since implemented a number of programs to help reduce those numbers. So far this year, there have been four suicides across Metrolink's 512-mile system.

"If you see something, if you see someone that is exhibiting these signs, say something before it's too late," said R.T. McCarthy of Metrolink.

In 2013, there were three suicides on Metro's Blue Line. After an anti-suicide campaign was initiated, there has not been a single suicide along the Blue Line in all of 2014.

"We've trained our supervisors and our janitors and our ambassadors to intervene if they see someone get on the tracks. We've had a number of interventions that have saved lives," said Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Anyone dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts is urged to contact the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Hotline at (877) 727-4747.

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