Japan Fights Train Station Suicide with Blue LED Lighting

Feeling blue? Japan's railways and subways have come up with a bright idea to reduce the number of suicides at train stations: eerie blue LED lighting that supposedly has a calming effect on suicidal psyches.

Suicides at Japanese train and subway stations are a sadly regular occurrence that, besides being a human tragedy, delay thousands of commuters who depend on the nation's famously punctual trains and subways.

How bad is it? Statistics compiled by one of the country's largest train companies, JR East, show that suicides occurring at it's stations rose from 42 in 2006 to 58 in 2007 and 68 in 2008 - a truly worrisome trend. 

Train and subway system operators have installed anti-suicide barriers at many stations but as they don't stop those determined to end their lives so horrifically, the companies are trying out a new tactic: blue lighting on station platforms.



First used at crossings on West Japan Railway Co.'s Hanwa Line in December of 2006, banks of bright blue LED lights have begun to appear at stations in Yokohama, Saitama and Tokyo.

Although evidence that blue lighting actually can uplift the moods of suicidal individuals is hard to come by, Japan's railway lines are hoping that the rumored "calming effect" induced by the color blue will be enough to change at least a few minds and, as a result, save lives.

JR East has set its sights on Tokyo's ring-shaped, green-tinted Yamanote Line (above) with 7 stations already equipped with blue LED platform lights. The company expects to finish installing the light banks on the remaining 22 stations on the line by the end of October, complementing the physical suicide barriers already in place.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the solution to station suicides really was a light at the end of the tunnel? (via Asahi Shimbun and Ningin, LED image via M.Kraehe)

Oct 17, 2009
by Anonymous

Correction to "Suicide Rates in Japan"

The current numbers licensed psychiatrists is between 12000 - 13000.