New trackside signs a move to curb railway suicides

In a bid to curb suicides on London-area railway lines, CN's Police Service and the local Canadian Mental Health Associations are teaming up erect hundreds of trackside signs that tell people in distress where they can get help.

Signs along the right-of-way will have toll-free number to connect those in distress with help

In a bid to reduce the number of suicides on London-area railway lines, CN's Police Service and the local Canadian Mental Health Associations are teaming up to erect hundreds of trackside signs that tell people in distress where they can get help. 

The signs are in French and English and are about 15 by 30 centimetres in size. 

They will be installed by CN at regular intervals along tracks identified by the railway as high risk.

The signs include a toll-free number (1-866-933-2023) that will connect callers to mental health, addictions and crisis services operated by Addictions Services of Thames Valley and the CMHAs in Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford counties. 

Lori Hassall of CMHA Middlesex said she was approached by a CN police Insp. Scott McCallum about partnering with the railway on the project. 

"Hopefully this will raise awareness for individuals who are thinking about suicide," Hassall said. "That if they see the sign, they will know that there's help out there and they'll reach out and get some support.

"There are about 43 suicides on Canadian railways every year, so it's pretty significant," she said. "If we can reduce the risk of suicide for individuals, then we want to do that."

CMHA Middlesex will pay the bulk of the cost of printing the signs using money donated to the group for suicide prevention initiatives. 

The signs will be officially unveiled at a news conference Friday morning at CN's southern Ontario operations office on Eggerton Street.