Does DC metro have inordinate number of suicides?

It seems that about once a week, if not at least a couple of times a month, someone “places himself on the tracks” and gets hit by train. Does this happen on a regular basis in other subways? I don’t remember hearing of it when I was in Taipei or Paris, but I hear of it all the time in DC.

I know, of course, that it happens. The walls that they have in Taipei and Tokyo that block the tracks until the train arrives are there, as I understand, because people did this kind of thing.

It seems to happen pretty regularly in New York City. Maybe I just happen to be reading the Gothamist on days when there are subway suicides.

Although I have not heard of “placing oneself on the tracks”, its more along the lines of jumping in front of a moving vehicle.

I usually see it in my rss feeds just after it’s happened. I think “placing oneself on the tracks/in the path of the train” is news-speak for “we don’t have the details, but he jumped on the tracks.”

I can’t find any overall statistics for the number of suicides in various subway systems, but I believe that the Washington Metro is actually lower than many other subway systems. I think that you have selective memory for the suicides on the Metro system. I don’t recall of hearing of many at all.

I can’t find any overall statistics for the number of suicides in various subway systems, but I believe that the Washington Metro is actually lower than many other subway systems. (Incidentally, whoever can look up the statistics, be sure to check the statistics outside the U.S. There aren’t that many subway systems in the U.S. You would find more subway systems to compare the Metro with if you included all those outside the U.S. Also, you should try to find statistics that compare suicides per passenger mile, not just the raw numbers.) I think that you have selective memory for the suicides on the Metro system, gitfiddle. I don’t recall of hearing of many at all.

Please excuse the double post.

Seems to happen all the time in Chicago.

Here’s a news story from earlier this year. I recall seeing another story that had statistics from pre-2007, which indicated that the number of suicide attempts had gone up extremely rapidly in the last few years, and that it used to be a very rare occurrence.

Link. 6 attempts in 2007, 5 attempts in 2008, and 4 through June of 2009.

So that’s 15 attempts at suicide in the two and a half years from the beginning of 2007 to halfway through 2009 on the Washington subway, and 7 of those were fatal. I think that’s not very high compared to other subway systems around the world.

It’s more likely that I have a shorter frame of reference. I only moved here in July. But since then, I’ve been amazed at how frequently this comes up. Apparently this year’s toll is considerably more than other years. Two days after the aforementioned article, another person jumped. Then only about a week ago there was another, only to be followed by this one.

Yeah, it’s an unusual cluster in recent months.

Potentially sparked by the major fatal accident earlier this year.

Had to leave my bike at work and take the bus this evening due to the weather. Standing at the bus stop I saw the Examiner headline “Metro wrestles with growing suicide problem.” I’ll be damned.

Not only did I learn that there is a field called “suicidology,” but also got this little nugget:

According to this news story, in one recent year, 50 people committed suicide in the London Underground, 26 committed suicide in the New York subway, and 24 in the Paris Metro:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1827064,00.html

Washington is thus rather low by this standard.

150 a year on the Moscow Metro:

I can’t find any more exact figure than “hundreds” for the Tokyo Subway:

http://books.google.com/books?id=WLsdcUeY29cC&pg=PA173&lpg=PA173&dq=suicides+Tokyo+subway+-lights&source=bl&ots=mLONkThpol&sig=9_Ykg6UfMyfPLfpky7iGWU3j_ik&hl=en&ei=LJwLS4bUKYyUlAesutybBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBMQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=suicides%20Tokyo%20subway%20-lights&f=false

I found an article in Japanese that gives the number of train/subway suicides in 2008 as approximately 2000, or 6% of the national total. It also gives 68 as the number of committed suicide on the JR Yamanote line in Tokyo. That’s just one of the roughly 20 lines in Tokyo.

True enough. It’s the fact that the number here is spiking this year that’s catching public attention. Also, those other systems are vastly larger than Washington’s, so the relative disruption to the system from any single incident may be less pronounced.

Of course, anything disrupts the DC Metro. There are delays most of the time it rains, even though the system is mostly underground.

From other articles I’ve read on “suicidology”, there is a tendency to faddism amongst the people who (try to) kill themselves.

Somebody jumps off a famous bridge, there’ll be a bunch more doing the same before the rate at that bridge falls back to the background rate.

Or, somebody famous kills themselves in a routine fashion, say OD on whatever the most advertised sleeping pill is, and for the next year that pill is the popular drug of choice.

From what I’ve read, these “epidemics” of suicide don’t really alter the number of attempts, just where / how they are made. OTOH, if the method is particularly fool-proof, it may improve the overall success rate versus the statistical norm.

So offing oneself via the DC metro may just be a fad in DC this year.