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TTC offering help to those who witness suicides on subways

Last Updated Sep 10, 2019 at 1:07 pm EDT

One of the TTC's new suicide-related support program posters, Sept. 10, 2019. HANDOUT/TTC

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is trying to help commuters who have witnessed a suicide or suicide attempt in the subway.

The transit agency has teamed up with the Distress Centres of Greater Toronto in a new program that will send trained volunteers to subway stations in the days following a suicide or attempt.

The volunteers will be available to answer questions and direct people to additional services.

Speaking to the media from Spadina Station on Tuesday, TTC Chair Jaye Robinson called this a “critical initiative.”

“On average, the TTC sees a total of 33 suicide incidents per year — 33,” she explained.

“So far in 2019 the TTC has seen nine fatalities and 12 attempts.”

The TTC says 19 people died by suicide in its system in 2017 and another 26 tried to take their own lives.

Robinson said today’s announcement, which comes on World Suicide Prevention Day, is just one piece of the TTC’s larger strategy to offer help and hope to those who may be in mental distress or contemplating suicide.

The campaign will see new posters at all 75 subway stations across the TTC.

Along with the current posters that inform anyone in distress of crisis help available to them, a secondary poster will ask TTC riders to notify a transit employee if they notice a fellow rider looking distraught or depressed.

“It is important to note that not all signs of distress are obvious,” Robinson explained.

“Warning behavioural signs may include lingering on platforms for an extended period of time, walking; standing or sitting on the yellow line, or appearing to be in a depressed state of mind.”

Robinson said those who have witnessed a suicide incident on the TTC can contact the Distress Centres of Toronto or Victims Services of Toronto either by phone or email.

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