Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Factors deterring and prompting the decision to attempt suicide on the railway networks: findings from 353 online surveys and 34 semi-structured interviews

  • Lisa Marzano (a1), Jay-Marie Mackenzie (a2), Ian Kruger (a3), Jo Borrill (a2) and Bob Fields (a4)...
  • Please note an addendum has been issued for this article.

Abstract

Background

There is a suicide on the British railways every 36 hours. However, the reasons why people choose to die by train are not well understood.

Aims

To explore factors influencing and discouraging the decision to attempt suicide on the railway networks.

Method

We conducted an online survey and qualitative interviews with individuals who had contemplated or attempted suicide by train.

Results

A total of 353 survey responders had considered and 23 had attempted suicide at rail locations (including railways and metro/underground); a third of these cases were impulsive. The most frequently reported motivations for contemplating or attempting suicide were perceptions of quick and certain lethality (54 and 37%, respectively) and easy access to rail settings (33 and 38%, respectively). The main factor discouraging people from rail suicide was its wider impact, especially on train drivers (19%). In qualitative interviews (N = 34) the desire to avoid intervention from others was also a common motivating factor for attempting suicide on the railway networks.

Conclusions

People attempt suicide by train because railway settings are easy to access and because of an inaccurate perception of certain and quick lethality. Tackling exaggerated perceptions of lethality may help reduce suicides by train.

Declaration of interest

None.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Lisa Marzano, Psychology Department, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT, UK. Email: l.marzano@mdx.ac.uk

References

Hide All
1Mishara, BL, Bardon, C. Systematic review of research on railway and urban transit system suicides. J Affect Disord 2016; 193: 215–26.
2Rail Safety and Standards Board. Improving Suicide Prevention Measures on the Rail Network in Great Britain. Rail Safety and Standard Board, 2014.
3British Transport Police (BTP). Railway Suicide and Crisis Incidents - 2017/2018. BTP, 2018.
4Ladwig, KH, Lukaschek, K, Erazo, N, Baumert, J. Recent insights from a European initiative to prevent railway suicides (RESTRAIL): is suicide prevention in the real world a realistic perspective? Findings from the German Railway Suicide Project. J Psychosom Res 2013; 74: 551.
5Barker, E, Kolves, K, De Leo, D. Rail-suicide prevention: systematic literature review of evidence-based activities. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry 2017; 9: e12246.
6Etzersdorfer, E, Sonneck, G. Preventing suicide by influencing mass-media reporting. The Viennese experience 1980-1996. Arch Suicide Res 1998; 4: 6774.
7Etzersdorfer, E, Sonneck, G. Preventing suicide by influencing mass-media reporting. The viennese experience 1980–1996. Arch Suicide Res 1998; 4: 6774.
8Ueda, M, Sawada, Y, Matsubayashi, T. The effectiveness of installing physical barriers for preventing railway suicides and accidents: evidence from Japan. J Affect Disord 2015; 178: 14.
9Chung, YW, Kang, SJ, Matsubayashi, T, Sawada, Y, Ueda, M. The effectiveness of platform screen doors for the prevention of subway suicides in South Korea. J Affect Disord 2016; 194: 80–3.
10Law, CK, Yip, PSF, Chan, WSC, Fu, KW, Wong, PWC, Law, YW. Evaluating the effectiveness of barrier installation for preventing railway suicides in Hong Kong. J Affect Disord 2009; 114: 254–62. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2008.07.021
11Zalsman, G, Hawton, K, Wasserman, D, van Heeringen, K, Arensman, E, Sarchiapone, M, et al. Suicide prevention strategies revisited: 10-year systematic review. Lancet Psychiatry 2016; 3: 646–59.
12O'Donnell, I, Farmer, R, Catalan, J. Explaining suicide: the views of survivors of serious suicide attempts. Br J Psychiatry 1996; 168: 780–6.
13Chowdhury, AN, Dutta, S, Chowdhury, S. Eco-psychiatry: suicidal behaviour at Calcutta metro rail: a prospective study. Int Med J 2000; 7: 2732.
14Mishara, BL. Suicide in the Montreal subway system: characteristics of the victims, antecedents, and implications for prevention. Can J Psychiatry 1999; 44: 690–6.
15Elo, S, Kyngäs, H. The qualitative content analysis process. J Adv Nurs 2008; 62: 107–15.
16Kraemer, HC. Extension of the kappa coefficient. Biometrics 1980; 36: 207–16.
17Beck, AT, Schuyler, D, Herman, I. Development of suicidal intent scales. In The Prediction of Suicide (eds Beck, AT, Resnik, HL, Lettieri, DJ): 4556. Charles Press, 1974.
18Braun, V, Clarke, V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol 2006; 3: 77101.
19Moran-Ellis, J, Alexander, VD, Cronin, A, Dickinson, M, Fielding, J, Sleney, J, et al. Triangulation and integration: processes, claims and implications. Qual Res 2006; 6: 4559.
20Bardon, C, Mishara, BL. Prévention Du Suicide Dans Le Métro de Montréal, Phase 1 - Description Des Gestes Suicidaires Dans Le Métro de Montréal à Partir Des Dossiers d'incident [Prevention of Suicide in the Montreal Metro, Phase 1 - Description of Suicidal Gestures in the Montreal Metro from Incident Records]. Centre for Research and Intervention on Suicide, Ethical Issues and End-of-Life Practices, 2013.
21Bhui, K, Chalangary, J, Jones, E. Railway Suicides in the UK: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies. Careif, 2013.
22Ryan, B. What do we know about rail suicide incidents? An analysis of 257 fatalities on the rail network in Great Britain. J Rail Rapid Transit 2017; 231(10): 1150–73.
23Sarchiapone, M, Mandelli, L, Iosue, M, Andrisano, C, Roy, A. Controlling access to suicide means. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2011; 8: 4550–62.
24Pirkis, J, Too, LS, Spittal, MJ, Krysinska, K, Robinson, J, Cheung, YTD. Interventions to reduce suicides at suicide hotspots: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry 2015; 2: 9941001.
25Too, LS, Milner, A, Bugeja, L, McClure, R. The socio-environmental determinants of railway suicide: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 2014; 14: 20.
26Niederkrotenthaler, T, Voracek, M, Herberth, A, Till, B, Strauss, M, Etzersdorfer, E, et al. Role of media reports in completed and prevented suicide: werther v. Papageno effects. Br J Psychiatry 2010; 197: 234–43.
27Lukaschek, K, Baumert, J, Erazo, N, Ladwig, KH. Stable time patterns of railway suicides in Germany: comparative analysis of 7,187 cases across two observation periods (1995-1998; 2005-2008). BMC Public Health 2014; 14: 124.
28Duddin, K, Rayns, B. Why Choose the Railway? An in-Depth Exploration of Suicide Notes Left by Those Who Were Successful in Taking Their Lives on the Railway. British Transport Police, 2017.
29Mackenzie, JM, Borrill, J, Hawkins, E, Fields, B, Kruger, I, Noonan, I, et al. Behaviours preceding suicides at railway and underground locations: a multimethodological qualitative approach. BMJ Open 2018; 8: e021076.
30Havârneanu, GM, Burkhardt, JM, Paran, F. A systematic review of the literature on safety measures to prevent railway suicides and trespassing accidents. Accid Anal Prev 2015; 81: 3050.

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Marzano et al. supplementary material
Marzano et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (21 KB)
21 KB
WORD
Supplementary materials

Marzano et al. supplementary material
Marzano et al. supplementary material 2

 Word (2.2 MB)
2.2 MB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Factors deterring and prompting the decision to attempt suicide on the railway networks: findings from 353 online surveys and 34 semi-structured interviews

  • Lisa Marzano (a1), Jay-Marie Mackenzie (a2), Ian Kruger (a3), Jo Borrill (a2) and Bob Fields (a4)...
  • Please note an addendum has been issued for this article.
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *



An addendum has published for this article: