Suicide by train down 10%; biggest decrease in a decade, ProRail says

A train crashed into a car on the Keizerdijk crossing on the outskirts of Rijssen. The motorist was killed, 22 Jan 2018
A train crashed into a car on the Keizerdijk crossing on the outskirts of Rijssen. The motorist was killed, 22 Jan 2018. (Photo: @ICB_Joelle / Twitter)

Last year 194 people took their own life by jumping in front of a train in the Netherlands, a decrease of 10 percent compared to the 215 such suicides in 2017. According to ProRail, this is the biggest decrease in a decade. The rail manager believes that preventative measures taken in cooperation with NS played a role in this, the Volkskrant reports.

In 2012 ProRail and NS started implementing physical measures at risk locations, like rail crossings, to make suicide by train more difficult. This includes fences, shock lights, cameras, and signs for suicide prevention hotline 113 Zelfmoordpreventie. Train and railway workers are now also being trained to identify and talk to people they think may attempt suicide.

An evaluation in 2017 showed that these measures led to a 30 to 40 percent reduction in fatal incidents, according to the newspaper. Then Infrastructure State Secretary Sharon Dijksma therefore pushed 14 million euros into expanding these measures to more locations. 

According to Evita Bloemheuvel of 113 Zelfmoordpreventie, these measures help because they take people contemplating suicide out of the moment. "Someone who whishes to die has tunnel vision, a light going on or an employee speaking to him can create a shock effect that makes him think: what am I doing?" she said to the newspaper. 

Train is currently the third most commonly used form of suicide in the Netherlands, after hanging and overdose. Last year a total of 1,917 people committed suicide, 23 more than in 2017. 

Those in the Netherlands who are suffering from depression or contemplating suicide may call counselors at Sensoor, 0900-0767 (5 ct./min.), or call their volunteers at . 113 Zelfmoordpreventie is also available 24/7 at number 0900-0133 A list of  outside the Netherlands is available on Wikipedia.

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