Fencing and railway suicide prevention in Australia

A 2019 article shows that: (i) fencing appears to lead to a reduction in some types of rail suicides and thus; (ii) contributes to a lower overall rate of suicide by train; and (iii) even with fencing, the non-jumping incidents warrant attention for appropriate countermeasures.

Read the full article on Patterns of pre-crash behaviour in railway suicides and the effect of corridor fencing: a natural experiment in New South Wales (mettre lien

Reference: Shirley Gregor, Gary Beavan, Adrian Culbert, Priscilla Kan John, Nguyen Viet Ngo, Byron Keating, Ruonan Sun & Ibrahim Radwan (2019) Patterns of pre-crash behaviour in railway suicides and the effect of corridor fencing: a natural experiment in New South Wales, International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 26:4, 423-430, DOI: 10.1080/17457300.2019.1660376

NEW VIDEO: Preventing Negative Psychological Effects in Locomotive Engineers and Train Conductors

Watch this video produced by IRSST based on the work by Prof. Cecile Bardon and her team at CRISE

Chicago: Rail deaths demand an urgent conversation on suicide prevention, Metra officials say

A newspaper article explores rail deaths in Chicago, USA and the steps taken by Metra railway company to start a conversation about railway suicide prevention. As part of this approach, Metra officials recently held a forum in Chicago to discuss rail deaths and suicide.

Cullotta, K.A. (2019, Oct. 11). Rail deaths demand an urgent conversation on suicide prevention, Metra officials say. Chicago Tribune,

Ontario, Canada: Surge in suicides on GO Transit tracks highlights need for new prevention tactics

In 2019, the unusual number of suicides on Ontario railways calls for new prevention strategies:

The article explores the impact of railway suicides on families and on train crew, and the necessity to prevent negative psychological effects for all those bereaved. On the intervention with train crew, read this recent report by Dr. Cécile Bardon on Preventing Negative Psychological Consequences in Locomotive Engineers and : 

NEW REPORT FROM CRISE: Critical Incidents in the Railway Industry: Preventing Negative Psychological Effects in Locomotive Engineers and Train Conductors.

This document summarizes the main findings of a study that assessed various critical incident (CI) management and employee support protocols in the railway industry in order to:

  • raise managers’ awareness of the potentially negative effects of critical incidents on locomotive engineers and train conductors in the rail industry and other transportation industries; 
  • share recommendations with them regarding the best critical incident management and employee support practices; and
  • inform them of the benefits of strictly applying a critical incident management and support protocol (CIMSP).

Reference: Bardon, C. & Felx, S. (2019). Critical Incidents in the Railway Industry: Preventing Negative Psychological Effects in Locomotive Engineers and Train Conductors. Report DS-1070, presented to IRSST.

To access full report:

New Report: Rail and Rail Transit Suicide Prevention in the U.S.

To access the full report:

Reference: Gabree, S. (2019). Rail and Rail Transit Suicide Prevention. Sept. 9, 2019 Report for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS). 

Suicide Prevention Signs at Israeli Stations Provide Hotline to Call During Crises

In 2019, suicide prevention signs have been installed at certain train stations in Israel, offering a message of hope and the number of a crisis hotline.

" 'One of the common myths about suicide prevention is that anyone who wants to kill themselves will do so, but access to emotional first aid at the right time and place provides an alternative,' says NGO director."

Read the full article in Haaretz:

Reference: Efrati, I. (2019, June 6). Suicide Prevention Signs at Israeli Stations Provide Hotline to Call During Crises. Haaretz, Israel News.

Can blue lights prevent suicide at train stations? A 2019 BBC Future article

Japanese train companies appeared to have found that soothing blue lights could reduce the rate of suicides at station. But does the "nudge technique" really work? And if so, how?

This article on BBC's website explores the possible effects of blue lights and other deterrents on suicide prevention. 

Reference: Baraniuk, C. (2019). Can blue lights prevent suicide at train stations? BBC Future, 23 Jan. at:

NEW REPORT: Assessment of various critical incident management and support protocols for railway employees after a serious incident.

Full report:


The Canadian railway industry must regularly deal with critical incidents (CI) involving collisions with people or vehicles. Such incidents may result in serious injuries or even fatalities, in addition to causing mental health problems for the locomotive engineers and conductors involved. Every year, approximately one hundred people in Canada, including some 20 in Québec, lose their lives in collisions with trains. In addition to fatal events, an unknown number of incidents also occur in which people are injured or property is damaged. Most locomotive engineers and train conductors will be exposed to this type of event at least once in their careers. When a critical incident of this nature occurs, they are witnesses, victims, participants and often first responders, all at the same time. 

A significant proportion of locomotive engineers and train conductors soon return to satisfactory personal and occupational functioning levels and have very few psychological, social or functional after-effects. However, the recovery time after a CI can be quite long, and employees require support during this period. In addition, between 4% and 17% of these employees will experience more serious problems, including depression, acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety.

Several clinical approaches are effective in mitigating posttraumatic symptoms, and a great deal of the research has focused on them. In contrast, needs are less well known and there are
fewer resources for those who do not suffer posttraumatic stress, but who struggle with major undiagnosed adverse effects.

Some studies have examined the critical incident management and support protocols (CIMSPs) implemented by employers, and they often recommend the adoption of practices to reduce the potential impact of critical incidents on employees and to shorten their recovery period. However, although these protocols are based on studies of CI after-effects and employees’
needs, they have not yet undergone empirical evaluation. Assessments of this kind are necessary to determine the key elements of these protocols that have a positive impact on
employee recovery and to promote recommendations based on scientific findings. 

The aim of this project was to assess the CIMSPs that have been implemented in the Canadian rail industry and their impact on the recovery of employees who have been involved in critical incidents and to propose key practices to reduce the adverse effects.

Seventy-four locomotive engineers and train conductors who had experienced a CI were recruited to take part in the study. They were interviewed four times over a six-month period. As
well, nine managers of train operations (MTOs) who met the same inclusion criteria were interviewed twice over a three-month period. A mixed-method approach was used to analyse
the data collected, combining statistical and qualitative analyses to fully understand the relationships between critical incidents, CIMSPs and post-CI recovery. The perceptions, needs
and recommendations of MTOs who are responsible for applying protocols and providing support are also presented.

The results indicate that existing CIMSPs are implemented partially or unevenly, depending on employer, province and CI type. In CIs without fatalities, for instance, management and support protocols are not completely followed, even when employee health is affected.

CIs affect employees in a wide variety of ways. The research team was able to establish five distinct recovery trajectories: no adverse effects, adverse effects that disappear within the
month following the CI, adverse effects that gradually decline and disappear within the three months following the CI, adverse effects that reach a plateau between one and three months
afterwards and then disappear, and adverse effects that are still present after six months. Overall, among two thirds of employees, the adverse effects of a CI dissipate more or less
rapidly in the month following the CI, 20% still feel significant effects after three months (course of the plateau and effects that persist after six months), while that proportion falls to 13% after six months. These effects are not negligible and affect employees’ cognition (concentration, rumination, distraction), energy (fatigue, trouble sleeping) and emotions (guilt, grief). They may also interfere with employees’ ability to perform their jobs effectively.

Differences in the application of CIMSPs provide opportunities for assessing their role in the post-CI recovery process. The study results show that management protocols can have an
effect on the recovery process. The following factors tend to foster an acceleration of the process: the presence of a manager on site; a manager taking charge at the scene of the CI;
the various stakeholders showing respect and empathy toward those affected; no pressure on employees to continue working or to return to work before they are ready; demobilization
(automatically removing employees from the scene of the CI and taking them home) and granting them recovery leave; a proactive offer of support by the employee assistance program
(EAP); a clear procedure for return to work and assessment of the employee’s readiness to resume occupational duties; deferred offer of support if needed; follow-up after return to work
and a positive work environment.

The study shows that CI management and the support provided by employers are key factors in promoting employee recovery. These are attitudes and actions that employers can act on and that can be applied fairly easily, without entailing prohibitive costs for companies. Employers have less control over other factors, such as social support or the complexity of the CI. Railway companies have protocols that already include most of the actions deemed to be effective. 

Following those protocols assiduously is a first step toward improving current practices and mitigating the adverse effects of CIs.


Bardon, C., Mishara, B.L., and Soares, A. (2019) Assessment of Various Critical Incident Management and Support Protocols for Railway Employees After a Serious Incident. Studies and Research Projects, Rapport R-1035, IRSST, 107 pages.


New article: Evaluating the effectiveness of platform screen doors for preventing metro suicides in China

Full text:


Metro suicide can cause tremendous effects on the general public. Platform screen doors (PSDs) have been identified as one of the most effective methods of suicide prevention at metro stations. However, there are few studies focusing on their effectiveness in preventing suicides. In particular, the effect of types of PSDs, including full-height and half-height PSDs, has rarely been assessed and compared.

Based on the suicide data provided by the Shanghai metro operator, the effectiveness of installing different types of PSDs for preventing metro suicides was investigated using a Poisson regression model. Ten-year monthly panel data for 94 metro stations from 2008 to 2017 were used in this study.

The number of metro suicides declined by 90.9% after the PSDs were installed at metro stations. In addition, different types of PSDs had different effects on decreasing the number of suicides, and a higher half-height PSD was more effective in preventing suicides. Specifically, full-height PSDs could eliminate metro suicides by completely preventing passengers from entering the track area, while half-height PSDs that were 1.5 m and 1.2 m high could decrease the number of suicides by 79.2% and 60.2%, respectively. Moreover, there was no significant indication that the installation of PSDs at metro stations displaced suicides to railway stations without PSDs (p = 0.706).

The potential economic benefits of different types of PSDs were not considered in our study. In addition, we did not examine whether suicide attempters would try to take their own lives by using other methods of suicide.

The installation of PSDs, especially full-height PSDs, could be very effective in preventing suicides at metro stations. Although half-height PSDs are less effective than full-height PSDs, increasing the height of half-height PSDs could be an effective way of enhancing their effectiveness in reducing the number of suicides.

Metro suicide, Suicide prevention, Platform screen door, China


Reference: Yingying Xing, Jian Lu, Shengdi Chen. (2019) Evaluating the effectiveness of platform screen doors for preventing metro suicides in China. Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 253, P. 63-68.

Partnership in Australia to prevent railway suicides

Traditionally unreported, suicide on rail is an alarming issue for those involved. It deeply affects wider communities and rail industry staff.

Since 2016, a partnership has developed between Lifeline Australia and TrackSAFE, which represents a strong, ongoing commitment to reduce suicides in the rail environment through collaboration, research and public awareness raising.

Lifeline Australia committed to providing specialist knowledge and supports on suicide prevention as a partner with the TrackSAFE Foundation to pursue this joint objective.

The partnership aims to address suicide on our network in an attempt to reduce the number of incidents and begin to mitigate the trauma caused to the families, communities and our employees.

The actions taken include the annual "Rail R U OK?" Day. April 11, 2019 was the fifth edition of this event.

Click here to learn more about the Lifeline/TrackSAFE partnership.