Again today I hear on the news that transport in London is severely disrupted due to a person being hit by a train. This time it was at Angel station.
Statistics show that an estimated 200 people commit suicide by throwing themselves under a train each year and a further 50 do so by jumping in front of a train on the underground.
Every time I hear of another person who’s thrown themselves under a train I try my best to remain compassionate for the suicide victim but I can’t help but feel very angry on behalf of the driver of the train. The trauma that they must go through due to becoming an unwilling killer must be unbearable.
I feel further sympathy for the people who have to clear up the mess of a destroyed body. And the other people who may have been stood at the station and had to watch someone killing themselves. Surely that must be a vision that scars you for life.
On top of this there are the hundreds, if not thousands of travelers who are often disrupted by the suicide. You may scoff at this as insignificant when someone has died but actually I’m not only talking about people on their way to work. I’m talking about people who may be on their way to a funeral or an arrangement that holds deep significance in their lives. And on a day when they just want to be on time and the last thing they need is added stress, I feel sorry that they then become unwittingly caught up in the consequences of another person’s suicide.
You’d think by now that someone would have got the hint and something significant would have been done to reduce the number of suicides. Clearly there’s never going to be a lack of people willing to commit suicide in this particularly selfish way but as a society we need to do everything we can to protect those who are affected by it from it happening quite so often.
And there are two relatively simple, although possibly quite expensive, ways to prevent these suicides occurring quite so frequently. One is to have trains both over and underground, pulling into stations or passing through stations very slowly. Slow enough to stop with immediacy in the event of an emergency. And the other is to put barriers, similar to those found on the Jubilee Line, at all the stations with doors which open once the train is fully pulled into the station and the train doors have opened.
There will still be suicides elsewhere on train tracks, but the vast majority of these suicides seem to occur at stations, particularly on the underground and so it would be worth trying to do something about it. Preventing even a tiny fraction of this devastation would be worth it.
It is a selfish act to commit suicide this way, knowing fully how much devastation you will be causing not only for those who knew you personally but also for the hundreds or thousands of people who are also unwittingly embroiled in the final parts of your life. Nevertheless, I am sure many will continue to try and kill themselves this way and if there are practical solutions such as the ones above, which will help to reduce the number of suicides, then I think they are certainly worth considering.