Tragically, the majority of deaths that occur on the Australian rail network are because of people taking their own life.
TrackSAFE has numerous activities that aim to reduce access to the rail corridor, encourage individuals in crisis to seek help and encourage others to intervene if there is someone in distress.
Restricting access to the rail corridor
TrackSAFE is active in its advocacy to the Commonwealth and State Governments for funding to fence high risk locations.
Pleasingly, additional funding for fencing has been provided in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland in 2020 & 2021.
TrackSAFE has also provided funding and in-kind support for research that is evaluating the effectiveness of different types of interventions including fencing in the rail environment. This project is being led by Professor Jane Pirkis at the University of Melbourne Centre for Mental Health. A briefing on the findings from this project as at November 2021 is available here.
Help-seeking campaign – Pause.Call.Be Heard
Encouraging individuals who may be thinking about suicide, experiencing dark thoughts, or struggling with the pressures of life to seek help is an important part of suicide prevention.
The Pause.Call.Be Heard campaign has been developed jointly with Lifeline Australia and it encourages people to stop, call Lifeline if in crisis or near crisis and you will be listened to non judgementally and guided to help.
Pause.Call.Be Heard ads are delivered digitally and displayed at various locations across the Australian rail network at various times with the support of rail operators, state governments and outdoor media organisations.
An evaluation of this campaign was conducted in 2021 and it found that it was associated with an increase to calls to Lifeline (in NSW and Victoria where the evaluation was conducted). More information is available here. Information about the 2018 evaluation is here.
Bystander public awareness campaign
TrackSAFE is exploring options for a bystander public awareness campaign.
One of the four ways to prevent suicides in public places is by increasing the likelihood of intervention by a third party, often called a by-stander or gatekeeper (the other ways being restricting access to means, encouraging help-seeking by the individual and responsible media reporting of incidents). The 2021 Victorian Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended the provision of gatekeeper training to develop suicide awareness and prevention skills and training in appropriate responses for members of workforces likely to come in contact with people experiencing suicidal behaviour.
For many years rail operators in Australia have provided training for frontline staff to identify and safely approach an individual who may be exhibiting behaviours that indicate that they may be thinking about a suicide attempt.
In 2021-22 TrackSAFE will consider whether there is a role for a bystander public awareness campaign to complement these rail staff interventions. To provide an evidence base for any future campaign, TrackSAFE is compiling examples of bystander campaigns from around the world together with information about the campaign design, implementation, and evaluation. It is also commissioning a review of the scientific literature about bystander campaigns.
TrackSAFE is committed to a strong evidence base to underpin its suicide prevention activities.
We are currently supporting two major research projects. Both are expected to be complete early 2022.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of different types of interventions including fencing in the rail environment. This project is being led by Prof Jane Pirkis at the University of Melbourne Centre for Mental Health.
- Queensland University of Technology is developing and testing a new approach for identifying at-risk commuters, and then using this approach to test a range of suicide prevention interventions. The project is being led by Professor Byron Keating at Queensland University of Technology Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology.
A briefing on the findings of these projects as at November 2021 is available here.
Lifeline Suicide in Public Places Resources
The TrackSAFE Foundation was a participant in the Lifeline Australia Site Intervention Project to prevent loss of life by suicide at known sites of repeat suicide incidents. This project was possible through funding from the Australian Department of Health.
The project resulted in a suite of resources that can support and empower communities and organisations (including service providers and land managers) by providing knowledge and resources to assist in addressing issues related to a specific location of concern. More information is available here.
Suicide, suspected suicide and attempted suicide on the Australian rail network
The TrackSAFE Foundation has prepared information to increase knowledge about suicide and attempted suicide incidents on the Australian rail network and inform prevention activities. Data for 2001-2020 is available here.