The total number of rail suicides rose last year from 203 suicides on rail tracks in 2005. This year the suicides have risen even further, and again on the Southall tracks. The suicide rate seems to have gone up since the landmark incident involving 27-year-old Navjeet Sidhu two years back. Navjeet took her five-year-old daughter Simran and her son Aman Raj, just a month short of his second birthday, to Southall train station. "I'm taking my children to see the fast trains," she told station staff. She then grabbed her two children and jumped in front of the Heathrow Express, the fast train from the airport into Paddington. All three died instantly. Six months later, Navjeet's mother Satwant Kaur threw herself in front of a train at the same spot. She too died on the spot.
Many more cases of suicide followed that of Navjeet. Suicides have a way of becoming contagious—when Marilyn Monroe committed suicide in 1962, suicide rates in the US rose by 12 per cent. The train company on this route, First Great Western, has now stepped up security at railway stations, with additional monitoring on CCTV. Fencing by the sides of the tracks has been firmed up, and a close watch kept on passengers, particularly those on the platform where the fast trains go by—for many the fast track to suicide. Several suicide attempts have been averted this year through staff action.