Metro suicides on the rise

Metro suicides on the rise

Metro is taking new steps to address a disturbing trend in train stations. Last year alone, six people died by suicide on the rail lines—four others attempted suicide.

Metro's board took up this tough subject Thursday afternoon—it happened as a person at the Foggy Bottom Metro Station took their own life. The tragic incident was a timely reminder about why the agency is going to install new signs in stations offering troubled passengers the number to crisis help lines.

One of the area crisis help lines is CrisisLink in Arlington, which expects to field 40,000 calls from individuals contemplating suicide this year.

The regional suicide-prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.

“To talk these feelings out will make you less likely to act upon them,” said Julia Stephens, CrisisLink’s Executive Director.

Following 36 suicides at Metro stations in just six years, signs for crisis help lines will start appearing throughout the system.

“That's when you pay attention, when you need if it's there in everyday life that will help people reach out when they need it,” Stephens said.

At the Foggy Bottom station Thursday afternoon, a person jumped in front of a train, taking their own life, making two suicides and two attempts on Metro so far this year. Meanwhile, across town in a conference room, the agency's board was talking about the new hotline.

“We'll be able to post signs up in the station saying, 'jeez, if you're feeling depressed and that sort of thing, here's a number to call,’” said WMATA General Manager Richard Sarles.

Metro looked to subway systems throughout the country already posting suicide-prevention hotlines—hoping that one call is all it takes.

“You're just hoping to save one life. You're not going to stop it,” Sarles said.
Metro says these incidents are especially traumatic for employees, as in Thursday’s death on the Blue and Orange Line. That train driver will likely undergo counseling.