According to East Japan Railway Co., nearly 6.33 million people pack onto the trains every day. However, this extensive method of public transportation is unfortunately being used as a means to take one’s own life, especially on JR lines in Tokyo.

Jinshin jiko (literally, human body accident) refers to any incident in which a moving train strikes a person. Witnesses of railway suicides are harmed mentally — according to research by the University of London, 16.3 percent of train drivers involved in suicidal incidents developed PTSD and 39.5 percent developed depression. Thus, such tragic incidents must be halted through increased implementation of safety measures and education.

More stations are getting safety doors to lessen railway suicide; the doors reduce accessibility to the tracks. They are an effective act of change for decreasing suicide attempts, yet only a few JR East stations have actually put them in operation. While constructing these barriers on all stations adds up to ¥500 billion, the investment will surely be worthwhile if it means reducing the train suicide rate.

The Japan Railway group must learn from England’s Tackling Suicide on the Railways program. It is a dedicated suicide prevention campaign consisting of a five-year partnership between railway authorities and citizens; the program involves train operators and the British Transport Police tackling issues of suicide through specialist training courses, targeted research and alterations to the station environment. Although these focus groups are time-consuming, they would dramatically raise awareness levels in Tokyo.

Public transportation must not be used as a channel for suicide. Tokyo must put further effort into funding the vast establishment of safety doors and awareness programs.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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