Reconsidering the Effects of Blue-light Installation for Prevention of Railway Suicides

A recent preliminary communication suggested that the calming effect of blue lights installed at the ends of railway platforms in Japan reduced suicides by 84%. This estimate is potentially misleading from an epidemiological point of view and is reconsidered in the present study. Governmental data listing all railway suicide attempts in Japan from April 2002 to March 2012 were used to investigate the proportion of suicide attempts within station premises, where blue lights are potentially installed, and at night, when they would be lit. For those suicide attempts within station premises, the authors also estimated the proportion that occurred at the ends of the platforms at night. There were a total of 5,841 total reported suicide attempts, 43% occurred within the station premises, 43% occurred at night (from 18:00 to 05:59), and 14% occurred both within the station premises and at night. Of the 2,535 attempts within station premises, 32% occurred at night and 28% at most were at the end of a platform at night. The exact proportion of nighttime suicide attempts at the ends of railway platforms was not calculable. Nonetheless, the proportion of suicide attempts that is potentially preventable by blue lights should be less than our conservative estimate. The installation of blue lights on platforms, even were they to have some effect in preventing railway suicides at night, would have a much smaller impact than previously estimated. View Report

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