Just last week, a train hit a couple who were hugging and laying on the tracks in an apparent suicide pact. The crash occurred on South Florida’s Tri-Rail and the train driver says he did everything he could to stop the train but was unsuccessful. Shockingly, the couple survived the crash and both are in critical condition at the Delray Medical Center.
Suicide by train is not anything new. In fact, the act has been depicted many times in movies and television shows. In the United Kingdom, suicide-by-train accounts for 3.5% of all suicides. A 2012 exposé revealed stories from train drivers who had killed people while operating a train. For some, the trauma from the experience lasts a lifetime.
Surviving a train crash is rare. It is difficult for trains to stop quickly enough to prevent crashes from happening. Still, Tri-Rail is fighting back, doing everything possible to prevent these fatalities. Palm Beach County, specifically, is the site of most cases of suicide-by-train. At least five people have been struck this year, four of them by Tri-Rail.
The crash is a reminder to Tri-Rail about the importance of suicide awareness and education, Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said.
“Unfortunately, suicide by train is a pretty sure thing. If someone wants to commit suicide, it’s pretty hard to prevent it.”
In response, Tri-Rail plans to put up crisis-intervention signs in vulnerable areas. They hope the signs will help people think twice about taking their own lives. The sign will also warn crews of the six problem spots along its 72 miles of track, which run from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach Counties.
Another Solution? Drones.
Tri-rail is also considering drones as a way of monitoring the tracks and deterring suicides. The drones would help alert train drivers of potential accidents further in advance. The drones would spot people on the tracks early enough to warn the drivers of potential issues.
Furthermore, The Florida Department of Transportation plans to launch a public-service campaign on radio, TV, and websites urging people to stay away from the tracks.
Florida’s New Brightline Trains Sees First Suicide
The newly constructed Brightline train has not even been open yet, and already has experienced their first suicide. The train is supposed to offer Floridians a much faster and relaxing way of commuting.
The website boasts:
- Go from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in 30 minutes
- Go from West Palm Beach to Miami in 60 minutes
- Work or play while you travel, care free and car free.
However, with the speed and convenience comes a high potential for suicide attempts. The trains are still in the testing phase and already an 18-year old woman was struck and killed when a train was going southbound on Monday afternoon.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” the company said in a statement. “We are cooperating with the local authorities as they complete their investigation.”
In preparation for the start of service, the company has been working to promote train safety through workshops and warning students about the dangers of walking along the tracks.
Overall, these recent suicides are a serious indicator of problems to come as more trains develop all across South Florida counties. As for the couple mentioned, we will have to see if they are able to make a full recovery.
On average, there are 121 suicides every day in the United States. Mental illness is a serious problem and it is important to raise awareness. If you are struggling with thoughts of hopelessness and suicide ideations, know you are not alone. There Is help out there. Do not wait. Call now.