Operation Lifesaver introduces resource for news media reporting on suicide-related rail incidents
WASHINGTON, DC, January 14, 2020 – Operation Lifesaver, Inc., (OLI) the national, nonprofit rail safety education organization, is providing a new resource that offers effective messaging and techniques to the news media when reporting on railroad or transit incidents involving suicide. A concise, online guide, Safe And Effective Messaging On Rail Incidents,is now available from OLI, thanks to a generous donation from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh.
“All rail trespassing fatalities, whether a coroner determines the cause of death to be suicide or due to other circumstances, are a tragedy not only for the family, but the train crew involved as well,” said OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “The media plays a significant role with rail safety, particularly when reporting on suicide-related rail incidents. This new tool highlights safe and appropriate practices when reporting on rail incidents that may involve suicide. We want to serve as a resource for reporters to make certain that incidents are reported accurately and that news accounts include messaging that highlights the importance of rail safety within communities.”
For this project, OLI worked with subject-matter experts from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to obtain strategies to appropriately communicate about the sensitive subject with the public, safety partners and the media.
The guide summarizes the importance of safe and effective messaging when reporting on suicide, explains that certain language and phrases have the potential to increase ‘copycat’ behavior and offers the dos and don’ts of effective reporting among journalists.
“Our new guide was developed with a research-based focus in line with our mission to save lives near tracks and trains,” continued Maleh. “We want to work with journalists to effectively inform the public when there are incidents in our communities and what local resources are available for vulnerable individuals. Our goal at Operation Lifesaver is to have zero reported incidents at railroad crossings and along tracks, including incidents involving railroad or transit-related suicides. We are committed to working with the media and providing resources for messaging to help accomplish this goal,” said OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh.”
If you or someone you love is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
About Operation Lifesaver
Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. A national network of trained volunteers gives free presentations on rail safety and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” provides tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. OLI leads an international observance of Rail Safety Week each September. Learn more about Rail Safety Week; follow OLI on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
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