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New signs aim to reduce toll of railway suicides

The tragic death toll of people dying by suicide on railway tracks has prompted the installation of new signs at all train stations.

In the past four years, 29 people have taken their own lives by being hit by moving trains.

The signs, containing contact details for The Samaritans service for people with suicidal or distressed thoughts, are being placed at all railway stations nationwide.

Every year, an average of seven people take their own lives on the railway and many more sustain serious injuries.

Prevention

Iarnrod Eireann chief executive David Franks was joined by the executive director of Samaritans Ireland, Catherine Brogan at Grand Canal Dock Station in Dublin yesterday to launch a new joint suicide prevention initiative.

"Having worked in the railway industry all my life, suicides on the railway are a sad reality," said Mr Franks.

"We, as a company, want to do everything we can to encourage members of the public to seek help and reach out for support when they are going through a difficult time.

"We hope that providing signage on all railway platforms will encourage those who need it to seek assistance," he said.

Samaritans Ireland executive director Ms Brogan said people can contact her organisation at any hour of the day or night.

"Our work with the rail industry to prevent suicides in the UK with Network Rail is something we are really proud of, and we are glad to have the opportunity to expand it to Ireland.

"Raising awareness of our service to rail commuters is really important.

"We want people to recognise the value of talking, rather than bottling things up.

"Samaritans is there for anyone going through a tough time.

"People can contact us around the clock, every single day of the year, by email, visiting their local branch, as well as calling," she said.

Research carried out in the UK has shown that signage can help play an important role in preventing suicide.

Former train driver Joe Buchanan, who has spoken of his decision to quit driving trains after a second suicide victim died under his train, attended the event yesterday.

He is now an Iarnród Éireann inspector.

"Having an act of suicide take place in front of your train can have a life-altering impact not just on drivers, but on their families, too, as well as those of the person who sadly dies," said the former train driver.

Appeal

"I am here today to appeal to anyone struggling to seek help to try and work through whatever is troubling them," he added.

Mr Buchanan, who now trains other drivers, recently described the pain of coming to terms with the two suicide incidents on RTE's Today With Sean O'Rourke.

The station signs initiative is part of the company's stated commitment to mental health and well-being.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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