Sample overview for the study of railway suicides in Canada

Railway fatalities are classified as suicides when:

1. There are clear indications of intent to die

2. When the person does not act in putting themselves out of harm’s way

3. When there is a history of mental health problems or previous suicidal behaviour

Either or all of these characteristics may be used to assess the likelihood of suicide.

The final sample, comprised 428 suicides which represent 37.9% of all railway fatalities over the 10 year span of the study, include large annual variations (from 29.6% in 1999 to 53.5% in 2007).

Fig. 1

number of suicides per year on the railway rights of way


percentage of all fatalities classified as suicides by year


Train suicides remain fairly rare yet traumatic events in Canada (an average of 43 per year). However, there seems to be an increase over the last 3 years of record (Fig 1). Suicides appear to be increasing, but we will have to wait for several more years before a trend can be confirmed. Between 2005 and 2007, rail suicides accounted for a mean of 1.55% of all suicides in Canada (click here to access comparison between countries ).