LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alarmed by an increase in suicides on its rail tracks, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is making a rare appeal for the public's help.
Suicide by train is a touchy topic, with many transit agencies worried about copycats if they talk about it.
But on Monday, LA Metro began focusing on the issue, asking the public to extend help for people who might be contemplating killing themselves — before they make it onto the tracks.
Since the beginning of last year, seven people have thrown themselves in front of trains on the Blue Line, which traverses some of the county's poorest areas on its 22-mile route between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Before the recent increase, suicides had averaged one per year since the line opened in 1990, according to Metro spokesman Marc Littman.
"We've reached the point where we must appeal to and engage the public" Metro spokesman Marc Littmansaid.
It's hard to judge whether the increase in suicides on this one route is more than an anomaly.
Nationally, suicides in which someone was hit by a subway or light rail train peaked when 74 people killed themselves in 2011, according to federal data. The total dipped back to a more typical 55 people in 2012. New York City subways stand out as the transit system with the most suicides, according to the data.
Metro already has taken steps to decrease suicides, including sending retired bus and train operators to Blue Line stations. Littman said these "safety ambassadors" have stopped three people from killing themselves since December.