Evaluation of a novel approach to preventing railway suicides: the community stations project

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe an evaluation of the Community Stations Project. The Community Stations Project was designed to address railway suicides in two ways: by improving the station environment in a manner that might improve community members’ feelings of wellbeing; and raising community members’ awareness of poor mental health and likelihood of reaching out to at-risk individuals. It involved four types of interventions (arts and culture, music, food and coffee, and “special events”) delivered at four stations in Victoria. Design/methodology/approach: A short anonymous survey was administered to community members on iPads at the four participating railway stations during the implementation of the interventions (between October and December 2016). The survey included questions about respondents’ demographics, their awareness of the intervention(s), their views of the station, their attitudes towards people with poor mental health and their emotional wellbeing. Findings: A total of 1,309 people took part in the survey. Of these, 48 per cent of community members surveyed reporting noticing an intervention at their station. Noticing the events was associated with positive views of the station, improved understanding of poor mental health, and a greater likelihood of reaching out to someone who might be at risk of poor mental health. Awareness of intervention events was not associated with respondents’ own emotional wellbeing. Practical implications: Continuing to focus efforts on mental health awareness activities may further strengthen the impact of the Community Stations Project interventions and ultimately prevent suicides at railway stations. Originality/value: This paper evaluates a novel approach to improving wellbeing and understanding of poor mental health in the train station environment.

Reference: Ross, A., Reavley, N., Too, L. S., Pirkis, J. (2018) Evaluation of a novel approach to preventing railway suicides: the community stations project. Journal of Public Mental Health, 17(2), 51-60.

Available online at: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JPMH-06-2017-0022