Traffic Authority works to prevent suicides

2:16 min

Last year at least 80 people committed suicide by jumping in front of trains. In order to reduce these suicides, Stockholm county's Traffic Administration has developed a prevention program.

"You go into a tunnel when you are feeling bad and the light disappears more and more. If someone else stops and talks to you, that breaks those thoughts and brings you back to reality," Pirjo Stråte, director of the Association for Suicide Prevention and Survivors Support, told Swedish Radio News.

The increasing number of suicides prompted the Association for Suicide Prevention and Survivors Support, or SPES, to contact the Stockholm Traffic Administration in 2012. But Stråte said that in the beginning many were sceptical.

"They didn't think there was much anyone could do about it," Stråte said.

According to Lars Ericsson, security director at the Stockholm Traffic Administration, part of the work towards suicide prevention is changing these prejudices and challenging the myths.

"For a long time, these myths have been saying that there are no methods for prevention because the person will just wait till the next train, or go to another station, or come back the next week but," Ericsson said, "modern research shows that this isn't true."

In Stockholm county last year, there were 12 people who committed suicide by jumping in front of trains. But Ericsson said that that number would have been higher if they had not started their prevention program. He said that so far this year they have prevented 19 suspected suicide attempts.

But what do they do if they see someone they think is contemplating suicide?

"We've developed checklists for both staff sitting in booths at the gates and for those moving throughout the system, and also to our control center, so that they know how to react," Ericsson said.