Railway suicides linked to rainy days

Kyodo

Railway suicides tend to spike after a series of cloudy and rainy days, a team of researchers from two Japanese universities said Wednesday in an international academic journal.

As a countermeasure, researchers from Kyoto University and Shiga University of Medical Science suggest installing high-intensity lights for treating depression on train platforms and cars, and patrolling stations and rail crossings after poor weather.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined how much daylight there was on days before peaks in suicide-related train disruptions of over 30 minutes during a five-year period from 2002. The data came from Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka, the three prefectures with the most rail suicides.

In general, there were more cancellations and delays after three days of rainy and cloudy weather than if at least one of the days had been clear, the study said. Suicides also rose after seven days of poor weather, they said, adding the weather on the day of a suicide or an attempt apparently made no difference.

“Rather than the weather on the day (of the suicides), having not been exposed to sunlight during the preceding days may have a greater influence on the symptoms of depression and decline in mood,” said Hiroshi Kadotani, a professor at Shiga University of Medical Science.