There were 119 suicides by train in California from 2011 to the end of October, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Apparently there was one more Monday in Simi Valley, where a southbound Metrolink commuter train struck a man, officials said. Also Monday, a 77-year-old Ojai woman was killed when her vehicle crashed into an Amtrak train south of Camarillo. Officials are trying to determine whether that was a suicide.
If people are determined to kill themselves by stepping or driving in front of a speeding train, a rail line can do little to stop it, Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said Tuesday.
"The sad part when you're talking about our agency alone is that we have over 500 miles of track," he said. "Most of which, if a person is determined, they are going to gain access to. And when you're talking about a national rail agency like a freight line, then you're talking about literally hundreds of thousands of miles of track."
From 2010 to Oct. 31, there were 17 trespasser deaths or injuries involving trains in Ventura County, the federal railroad agency said. Its data does not specify which of the deaths were suicides.
Metrolink has not identified likely suicide spots on its tracks, Johnson said.
"So you wouldn't be able to attack the problem in that manner," he said.
Instead, Metrolink encourages people to seek help from mental health professionals if they feel depressed or suicidal.
"If they ever do contact us directly, we can provide some of the free sources," he said.
Metrolink also partners with Amtrak, Union Pacific and others in the Southern California Rail Safety Team, which is led by nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, a national educational outreach organization funded by rail providers, he said.
"Operation Lifesaver brings all those entities together on a focused approach to rail safety," he said. "To make certain that people, when they see the tracks, they think 'train' and they need to stay off.
"Our safety and security teams go out in force talking to schools and professional drivers receiving their commercial licenses about being safe and cautious in and around tracks in terms of crossings," he said.
Metrolink is deeply vested in trying to prevent suicides by train, Johnson said.
"It's an issue that we are all entrenched in, not only because it does affect the lives of the individuals who sadly decide to take their lives in that manner, but it affects literally hundreds of other people," including train passengers and crews and emergency response personnel, he said. "People who decide to take their life by train is so very, very tragic."
Copyright 2014 - Ventura County Star, Calif.