A team of San Mateo County Caltrain employees recently raised nearly $12,000 to help prevent suicides.
The team joined more than 2,000 people in the "Out of the Darkness Overnight," an 18-mile walk in San Francisco to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Caltrain has been at the site of many suicides and attempted suicides in recent years, most notably with a string of several suicides by students from Palo Alto's in 2009.
“We are all touched by these tragic incidents on the Caltrain right-of-way,” said Executive Director Mike Scanlon.
Caltrain officials stress that, while suicides on its tracks attract publicity, they only account for 3 percent of all suicides in the area it serves.
Nonetheless, Caltrain stresses its commitment to reducing these incidences.
In 1996, Caltrain posted “No Trespassing” signs every 1,200 feet along its entire 55-mile corridor. In 2001, a suicide prevention sign with a telephone number to a crisis prevention center was added.
In 2010, the signs were redesigned as part of a national study to assess their effectiveness. This year all the signs, which had begun to fade, were replaced.
Caltrain has also partnered with local community organizations to implement suicide prevention plans, including the City of Palo Alto's Project Safety Net, the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee, and the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention/Intervention Planning Committee.
In addition, the Transit Police Bureau, comprised of San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department officers, have received specialized crisis intervention training to help them recognize people who seem to be at risk for suicide, and refer them for appropriate treatment.
Caltrain previously sponsored a team in the 2006 "Out of the Darkness Overnight" event, the last time the event was held in San Francisco.