NJ Transit seeing upswing in suicides on tracks

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (AP) — Suicides on New Jersey’s rail tracks have spiked this year. .

New Jersey Transit tells The Record (http://bit.ly/1b6ydSg) that 21 of the 27 people struck and killed by its trains in 2013 were confirmed or possible suicides. Between 2008 and last year, that number hovered between 12 and 16.

The recent upswing may reflect a national increase in the overall number of suicides.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the suicide rate for people between 35 and 64 has risen more than 28 percent from 1999 to 2010.

NJ Transit has focused on preventing accidental track deaths, and those numbers fell from 2009 to last year. Spokesman John Durso Jr. told the newspaper the agency has posted a suicide hotline number at all of its 164 rail stations.

The Hopeline, which is the state’s first suicide hotline, went into service on May 1.

People who call the hotline, which is operated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, are connected to a trained professional or volunteer and never to an automated routing device, said Jennifer Velez, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services.

“It’s important for residents who are feeling alone, desperate or in distress to have a safe outlet,” Velez told the newspaper. “Using trained counselors who are based in New Jersey helps callers to relate easier and can help lead to fewer suicides.”

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

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