Illness, financial hardship, family crises – the reasons that lead someone to commit suicide are varied and, in some cases, never known. Signs unveiled at SEPTA’s Norristown Transportation Center (NTC) today – Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day – let the public know that assistance is available for those contemplating suicide via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK.
The signs were installed in the Manayunk/Norristown Line boarding areas at NTC as part of a pilot program partnership between SEPTA and Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc. (MCES), a non-profit crisis psychiatric response center located in West Norriton, PA. The MCES’ crisis hotline is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s national network of 163 response centers.
“The partnership with SEPTA and MCES is natural,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s Chief Officer of System Safety. “Approximately 50 percent of the fatalities on SEPTA’s rail system each year are ruled suicides. By placing the Lifeline signs at our stations, we believe that people who might think suicide is their only option will see that help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The MCES crisis call center answers approximately 4,500 calls each year. The organization also has a 24/7/365 walk-in crisis center with a psychiatrist on duty at all times; an inpatient hospital for voluntary and involuntary admissions to assess, treat, stabilize and educate patients; and one of the nation’s only hospital-based psychiatric emergency medical services (EMS) squads.
“MCES responds to and treats individuals day in and day out who are struggling with suicidal ideation or who have made an attempt,” said MCES Development Specialist Gabriel Nathan. “The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a tremendous resource for people who are in need in a desperate time. We are proud to partner with Lifeline and with SEPTA in this invaluable and tangible effort to prevent suicide, and to connect people with the help, and hope, they need.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a suicide occurs in U.S. every 13 minutes. In 2011 (the last year for which national statistics are available), there were more than 39,500 reported suicides in the U.S., making it the nation’s 10th leading cause of death.
By installing the signs, SEPTA joins transit systems in New York, Boston and Toronto in creating awareness of suicide helplines through notices posted at their stations. SEPTA plans to roll out Lifeline informational signs at locations across the system over the next year.”We will start by identifying areas where we have responded to suicides or attempted suicides and place signs at these key stations,” said Sauer. “We want to get this important message to as many people across our five-county service area as possible.”
For more information about MCES, the crisis call center and assistance available for those struggling with suicidal ideation, visit http://www.mces.org or call 610-279-6100.