France’s state rail company launches campaign to discourage would-be suicides from jumping to their deaths on rail tracks after figures show surge in suicides on Paris train network.
PARIS – Faced with a gruesome surge in suicides on the Paris train network, France's state rail company is launching a campaign to convince the desperate to choose another way to go.
With one person committing suicide on average every two days, the number of people who jumped to their deaths on rail tracks in the Paris region leapt by a fifth, from 148 to 181, between 2007 and 2008.
Suicides during rush hour saw the biggest increase, up 72 percent, the head of Paris area transport for the rail operator SNCF, Jean-Pierre Farandou, told reporters on Monday.
Each incident causes massive disruption to up to 100,000 passengers, with knock-on delays to around 100 trains, adding to commuter misery on a network already stretched to full capacity, he said.
Farandou said the SNCF "does not aim to treat the root causes" of suicidal behaviour, but is planning a campaign to hope to "dissuade people from choosing the train to commit suicide."
Rail workers could be trained to detect at-risk individuals and stop them from jumping, he suggested, citing the example of Canada, where a public information campaign managed to slash the number of train suicides.
Farandou said he had contacted the Paris metro operator RATP to put together an information campaign talking down the train as a suicide method.
Would-be suicides need to understand that trains are not a "fool-proof" solution, he said, and that many people survive, but heavily handicapped.
Officials say they have no explanation for the boom in suicides on Paris trains, which is an isolated phenomenon nationwide.
Just over 10,000 people committed suicide in France in 2008, a figure that has remained stable since 2000.