TrackSafe Foundation statistics show that in 2011 186 people died on the railways nationally. Of those, it is estimated 150 took their own lives. The remaining 36 died when trespassing or at a level crossing.
Earlier this year, The Age revealed that Victoria’s rail suicide toll was by far the highest in Australia, with 206 deaths between 2001 and 2007 – 74 more than in New South Wales and 150 more than in Queensland.
TrackSafe, a rail industry initiative, seeks to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the rail network.
The foundation is to trial an anti-suicide campaign in Melbourne this month, with posters at 200 metropolitan train stations urging vulnerable people to seek help.
The campaign will run under the slogan “Don’t hide it”.
The posters feature a young man, with the words: “Even the toughest of us can feel totally overwhelmed sometimes. But taking charge may not be as hard as you think.”
Figures from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre show that 70 per cent of Melbourne rail suicides from 2001 to 2007 took place on open tracks between railway stations. It said 90 per cent of the network’s tracks were unfenced. The campaign posters will not be displayed on the side of tracks.
Metro Trains gave TrackSafe free poster space for the campaign, but it will not run during December in the lead-up to Christmas, a time known to exacerbate depression.
TrackSafe Foundation manager Naomi Frauenfelder said there could be an expanded campaign next year.
Alan Woodward, executive director of the Lifeline Foundation for Suicide Prevention, encouraged people to seek access to services.
“Help is available, and we urge you to utilise the information and services offered by Lifeline and beyondblue,” he said. “Together we can create a climate of help-seeking where members of the public access the available help services in times of crisis.”
For help or information, call Lifeline on 131 114, or visit beyondblue.org.au.
As first appeared in The Age, 1 November 2012