With input and guidance from the Bay Area Suicide and Crisis Intervention Alliance (BASCIA), Oakland, Calif.’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is launching a multi-pronged, continuous campaign to address the recent increase in suicides and suicide attempts on the agency’s property.
“We looked at what other transit agencies have done on the topic and with the help of local mental health experts, determined what steps would be appropriate for BART,” said Deputy GM Marcia deVaughn. “Posting a help line and providing training to our employees are some of the key things we can do as a transit agency.”
The centerpiece of the campaign launch is station signage directing troubled patrons to call the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline, with the phrase “Suicide is not the route” included over the number. This phrase has been tested in a Long Island Rail Road campaign that has seen an increase in calls to the number.
The Federal Government administers the National Suicide Lifeline, providing a service that redirects calls based on the caller’s area code to the appropriate local agency for free, confidential help around the clock. Signs will be rotated throughout the system across from the platforms.
Another key component is training frontline BART staff on how to recognize and help a person in crisis. BASCIA will assist BART with this training.
BART will be distributing National Suicide Lifeline wallet cards provided by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration in all stations. Each Station Agent booth will have the cards available.
Longer term ideas being looked at include printing the suicide lifeline number on BART papers tickets, permanent signage in stations, coordination of outreach events, and looking into the feasibility of and funding for platform screen doors.