Time of fatalities
In Canada there are annual and seasonal variations in suicide rates, as well as differences depending upon the day of the week and the time of day.
Railway suicide seems to be a rather stable phenomenon over time, except in Ontario which accounts for most of the observed variations over the years. There seems to have been a an increase in the number of Ontario suicides over the years with the exception of 2004.
Railway suicides in Ontario vary more over time than the overall suicide rates in the province.
Suicides tend to occur more often in the summer (July: 13.4%, August: 11.7%).
It is possible that since railway suicide occurs outdoors, people who walk to the tracks to commit suicide are more likely to do so when the weather is warmer. This can be confirmed by atmospheric conditions observed at the time of death.
- Most suicides took place on a clear day (69.9%) and 18.4% occurred on a cloudy day with no rain. Suicides occur much less when the weather is worse (rain : 5.8%, fog, wind and snow : 1.9% each)
- Overall, suicides occur more often when the temperature is warm - 44.75% of suicides occurred when the temperature was above 15 degrees Celsius.
- Dusk and Dawn are the times when suicides are less frequent. 40.4% of suicides occur in the dark and 46.9% in broad daylight
Hours of the day
Railway suicide tends to be rather stable over the day. However, there is a slight increase in the risk for suicides in the late afternoon and early evening.
Days of the week
Suicides are spread equally across the weekdays (between 12.9% and 15.9% of suicides per day) with Sundays having the most suicides (15.9%).
Implication for suicide prevention
- Since Ontario has the highest number of railway suicides and since the numbers have been increasing over the past ten years, this province is where prevention programmes should have the most overall focus and impact. More information on sensitive areas in Ontario is available for partners in the partners section.
- Any seasonal suicide prevention strategies should focus on the early summer and continue through the fall to reach the largest possible at risk population.