Railway Suicide in the World

Railway suicides vary from country to country. Therefore, one has to be very careful when drawing conclusions from analyses and preventive measures that have been developed elsewhere. It is also important to note that data in different countries does not necessarily use the same criteria for classifying suicidal deaths. In order to properly compare countries in terms of their suicide mortality, it would be necessary to develop standardised indicators and data collection tools. However, some elements can be identified for comparison in various studies across the world. The following table summarises the main findings.

Country

Number of railway suicides and suicide attempts
Railwail as proportion
of all
suicides
Location of suicides in the railway network Peak times
of year of incidents
Characteristics of suicidal people Behaviours on and near the tracks 

 ASIA

India

Chowdurry,Dutta & Chowdurry, 2000
                                                                                               15% psychiatric diagnosis                         

Japan   

Araki & Murata, 1986; Kerkhof 2003; Kadotani et al., 2014
Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Osaka prefectures
971 suicides (2002-2006)
6.3%     When there is less sunlight in the prior 7 days, there are more attempts  

EUROPE

Austria

Ememrson & Cantor, 1993; Deisenhammer et al., 1997
  5.7% 48% close to the Regional psychiatric hospital (Brisbane)      

Belgium

Andriessen, Krysinska, 2011
91 suicides per year (1998-2009)

80 suicides attempts per year (2003-2009)
5.3% Suicides occur in densely populated areas 

Hotspots Near mental health facilities (>6 suicides per 2 km of track) 
March and June

54% fatility rate

Denmark

Lindekilde, 1986
  3.1%     81% are psychiatric patients (versus 38% for other means)  

Germany

Baumert et al., 2006; Erazo et al., 2005; Dinkel et al., 2011; Lukaschek, et al., 2011

 

 955 suicides per year  (1997-2002)
7% and increasing 30% in stations

A majority on open track (specially in urban areas)
April and September for men

 No seasonal variations for women
Risk factors for train suicides

Railway density

Passenger traffic density
Jumping, lying on track, wandering on tracks

 

Behaviour prior to the attempt
  • 50% Dropping and leaving personal objects
  • 50% Avoidance of eye contact
  • 30% Erratic gesture
  • 25% Erratic communication patterns
  • 25% General confusion
  • 20% alcohol use
  • 14% aimless wandering
Lukaschek et al., 2008; Van Houwellingen et al., 2013; Lukaschek et al., 2014  6105 suicides, 8 years  (2000-2007) 

Hotspots

Near psychiatric hospitals (6 to 29 suicides per km of track)
Daily pattern remains stable over time (Monday and Tuesday, between 6:00 and 12:00 and between 18:00 and 24:00)

Hungary

Veress, 1980

  2.7%        

Italy

Kerkoff, 2003

       

52% depression

8.4% schizophrenia
 

Netherlands

 

Kerkhof, 2003; van Houwelingen et al., 2001

 

180 suicides per year
10-14%

Hotspots

Near psychiatric hospitals

 

Early evening for men

Morning for women

 

74% between 20-59 years old (younger than general suicide)

More bipolar and psychotic disorders than with other means

Risk factors for train suicides
  • Railway density
  • Passenger traffic density
van Houwellingen et al., 2013 1475 suicides, 8 years (2000-2007) 

Sweden

Radbo et al., 2005

 

 

 48 suicides per year (2000-2002)

 

6.2%

Suicides occur in densely populated areas Most suicides in the daytime
Male/Female ratio 2.6:1 (similar to other means )

Mean age 43 (younger than other means)
75% of suicide victims were waiting or loitering close to on the tracks before the train arrived
Radbo et al., 2012 Greater Stockholm (2005-2008)
47 collisions, average:1 per month 

41 fatal

 30 suicides
  93% in stations (including 53% on platforms)

Deviates from national patterns (more often on open tracks)

Commuter trains

Weekdays

 

Daytime (afternoon)

66% male

Mean age 40

Standing, walking on tracks (37%)

Lying, sitting on tracks (30%)

Jumping running (30%)

Turkey

Ozdogan et al., 2006

65 per year (1997-2003)

  Level crossings   Majority between 20-60 years old  

United Kingdom 

Abott et al., 2003; Clarke, 1994; Farmer et al., 1994; Kerkhof, 2003; Hudson, 1999; Farmer et al., 1991; Symonds, 1985
163 per year (1995-1999) 5% Clustering near psychiatric hospitals     The majority are see waiting for the train 

 OCEANIA

Australia

De Leo et al., 2008

         57% treated for schizophrenia (Brisbane)

40.4% with psychiatric diagnosis (in Queensland)

29.8% had alcohol in their blood
 

 NORTH AMERICA

Canada 

Mishara et Bardon, 2013; Transport Canada, 1996
43 per year (1999-2007) 1.5% 63% within 1km of home

66% on open tracks

85% in densely populated areas

Important variations by province

July and August

Late afternoon to early night

Males 4:1

Mean age : 39.5 (mostly adults)

43% unemployed, retired, on a pension

46% had a spouse

57% Depression, bipolar

22% were under psychiatric care
Running from embankment, lie on track, stand/sit on track

Very rarely in stations (6%)

 USA

Federal railway Administration, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

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