TTC Suicide Prevention Barriers

Suicide Prevention Doors

Introduction

The points herein are compiled from many sources, most listed in the ‘further reading’ section. These represent my research notes; I don’t claim this is my writing.

Costs and Timelines

Suicide prevention doors could be arriving on the Yonge St. subway line as early as 2013.

But TTC officials acknowledge it will take untold years and up to $690 million to bring the life-saving devices to the entire subway system.

Suicide / Mortality Statistics

In 2001 there were 56 traffic fatalities, 12 ttc suicides, 17 attempts, 1032 suicides in Ontario.

Population Ontario = 13 million, Population GTA = 5.6 million = 5.6/13 = 0.43

0.43 * 1032 = 443 in GTA

12/443 = 3% 3% of Toronto’s suicides occurred in the subway.

Cost is 10 million per station.

$690 million, $0.69 billion to solve 3% of the problem.

Statistics from the US NIMH

NIMH = National Institute of Mental Health

Suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the sixteenth leading cause of death for females in 2006.1

Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide.1

Firearms, suffocation, and poison are by far the most common methods of suicide, overall. However, men and women differ in the method used, as shown below.1

Suicide by:

Males (%)

Females (%)

Firearms

56

31

Suffocation

23

19

Poisoning

13

40

Other

8

10

People Involved in the Debate

Lindsay Hill (Toronto Lawyer and Activist appeared before City Council)

Toronto lawyer Lindsay Hill, who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, told the commission that people whose brain chemistry is agonizingly out of balance may not be able to resist the opportunity to kill themselves even though they want to live.

“Suicide isn’t always a decision,” Hill said. “Sometimes you walk down to the TTC platform and you hear silence and then you hear the rushing wind and you think it would be so easy. And that calls to you and the decision is out of your hand.” (Toronto Sun)

Brian Beamish (Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish) – Released TTC Suicide Statistics

Toronto Sun, under freedom of information act (Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish) asked TTC to release information regarding TTC suicides

Beamish Ruled that “romanticized coverage of suicide may contribute to imitative effects but the simple publication of suicide statistics which do not focus on the details of a particular death."

Beamish offered a countervailing piece of research from the CDC "reporting of suicide can have several direct benefits. Specifically, community efforts to address this problem can be strengthened by news coverage that describes the help and support available in a community, explains how to identify persons at high risk for suicide, or presents information about risk factors for suicide."

Paul Links (WHO)

The World Health Organization and the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention have issued similar cautions. Paul Links, a psychiatrist specializing in suicide prevention, said copycat suicides are more likely to occur when media reports are sensationalized, there is close attention to the method used and when the story draws a link between an event in a person’s life and their decision to end it.

Toronto Transit Commission

The TTC has a policy of not publishing statistics or news revolving around suicide on TTC property. Despite the ruling and the one time revelation, the TTC remains committed to this policy going forward.

In 2009 19 people committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train, causing 23 hours of delays for commuters.

Mary Lynn Porto, the co-ordinator of the Gatekeeper Project, a suicide prevention training program for TTC booth collectors and subway drivers, says training helps avert five suicides a month.

What about slowing down?

Slowing trains down before entering a station would add on 15 minutes to a run per line and require the TTC to add six trains on each line, costing about $216 million more, according to a commission study.

The report adds that slowing down isn’t effective in stopping subway suicides anyway.

Suicide Prevention in Hong Kong

”We are suffering major losses from suicide,” said Masaki Ogata, general manager for transport safety of JR East. ”We’ve been studying the problem for 13 years now. There are various measures that we can take to reduce suicides, but in the end, man is the problem.”

The decade-long rash of suicides has coincided with an economic stagnation that is unequaled in modern Japanese history. In a society where much is driven by shame, record-high levels of unemployment have turned many men into despondent, daytime wanderers who pretend to have gainful occupations by staying away from home all day.

Suicide victim’s family charged for clean up! Train companies charge the families of suicide victims for damages caused by the suicides. JR East is just one of several train and subway companies operating in the Tokyo area, but it is widely rumored that JR East became the most popular line for suicides because it charged the bereaved families the least.

Newer train lines in Japan have suicide prevention platforms. 5-foot walls span the entire platform, with doors that only open when the train has safely stopped at the station. Jumping in front of a moving train is one of the most common suicide methods in Japan—it was, at least, until people started spreading information on how to gas themselves at home.

Death by Gassing at Home in Japan: The reason these suicides (by gassing) have been so newsworthy are because they all took place using household items to create the poisonous gas, hydrogen sulfide. The first one of these suicides took place last year, and since then, the methods for creating this gas have been spreading across the Internet. Since the beginning of this year, these suicides have been growing in number, finally coming to a head and breaking into the media spotlight this April with an astonishing 59 suicides.

More than 870 people have killed themselves in Japan by inhaling toxic fumes from household chemicals this year(2008), 30 times more than the total for all of last year, the government said today.

Suicide Prevention in Seoul South Korea

Between the roar of incoming trains, the soothing strains of Beethoven’s "Fur Elise" or Ben E. King’s "Stand By Me" float across the platforms of Seoul’s labyrinthine subway network.

The music fades and a preacher-like male voice intones: "Dear passengers, let’s think again about the parents and sisters and brothers we love and the preciousness of our life."

Driven by debt, lost love, terminal disease and other miseries, 95 people killed themselves in Seoul’s subway system last year.

Some nervous jumpers put black plastic bags over their heads to block out their surroundings and maintain their resolve just before leaping in front of an oncoming train.

The songs include Frank Sinatra’s "Send in the Clowns," "Sailing" by Rod Stewart, and Simon & Garfunkel’s "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Electronic boards inside subway cars and platforms flash the sign:
"Giving up your life will inflict an unbearable pain on your family and the society!"

Subway suicides have also been a problem in Japan. In Tokyo, authorities once installed mirrors on the wall at the incoming end of platforms, where most people jump, theorizing that people would change their mind if they looked at their own image.

Pushing Incidents

Feb 16 2009, TTC fare collector chased and apprehended a man who pushed two men on to the tracks. Why is the media not afraid of copy cat pushing incidents in this case?

Other Suicide Magnets in the City: Bloor Viaduct

Bloor St Viaduct “Luminous Veil” cost 5.5 million (not luminous, ran out of cash).

Luminous Veil is a suicide barrier over the Bloor St Viaduct which until it was erected was the 2nd most popular suicide location in the world, behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bloor Street Viaduct – in 1997 there were 17 suicides

Appendix A – MEDIA GUIDELINES ( via Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention)

News stories, articles, and dramatic presentations on the subject of suicide have come under question in the last few years. The concern has been that such presentations may have stimulated some persons to attempt suicide. There is confusion about how the subject of suicide should be treated to minimize this danger.

As a service to the news media and to the people making public presentation on the subject of suicide, the American Association of Suicidology and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention offer the following guidelines. These are intended to be general statements to aid in a responsible presentation of information about suicide.

1. To discourage imitative or copycat suicides, it is important to avoid or minimize:

• Reporting specific details of the method

• Descriptions of a suicide as unexplainable e.g., "He had everything going for him."

• Reporting romanticized versions of the reasons for the suicide(s), e.g., "We want to be together for all eternity."

• Simplistic reasons for the suicide, e.g., "Boy commits suicide because he has to wear braces."

In addition, the print media can reduce the imitative effect by:

• Printing story on inside page

• If story must appear on first page, print it below the fold

• Avoid the word "suicide" in the headline

• Avoid printing a photo of the person who committed suicide

It is important to report a suicide in a straightforward manner so that the suicide does not appear exciting. Reports should not make the suicidal person appear admirable, nor should they seem to approve of the suicide.

2. To encourage prevention of suicide, it is helpful to:

• Present alternatives to suicide, e.g., calling a suicide prevention centre, getting counselling, etc.

• Whenever possible, present examples of positive outcomes of people in suicidal crises.

• Provide information on community resources for those who may be suicidal or who know people who are.

• Include a list of clues to suicidal behavior, e.g.:

Warning Signs of Suicide

Suicide threats

Statements revealing a desire to die

Previous suicide attempts

Sudden changes in behaviour (withdrawal, apathy, moodiness)

Depression (crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness)

Final arrangements (such as giving away personal possessions)

What to Do

Discuss it openly and frankly

Show interest and support

Get professional help

Call your local Crisis/Distress Line

Appendix B – TTC Suicide Statistics

Below, are the subway suicide incidents and attempts from 1998 to 2009.

Year

Suicides

Attempts

Total Incidents

1998

12

13

25

1999

22

4

26

2000

21

12

33

2001

12

17

29

2002

16

11

27

2003

17

9

26

2004

15

8

23

2005

14

6

20

2006

8

11

19

2007

13

9

22

2008

N/A ♦

N/A ♦

19

2009

N/A ♦

N/A ♦

18

Further Reading

http://www.eopa.ca/newsletters/DialogueNL.June2001.pdf (pps 8-9)

http://casp-acps.ca/Publications/MEDIA%20GUIDELINES.doc

http://www.ipc.on.ca/images/Findings/MO-2466.pdf

http://www.cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090216/090216_ttc_collector/20090216/?hub=CP24Home

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml

http://www.tokyomango.com/tokyo_mango/2008/09/suicide-prevent.html

http://www.japaninc.com/node/3240

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/06/world/kunitachi-city-journal-japanese-trains-try-to-shed-a-gruesome-appeal.html?sec=health&&scp=1&sq=chuo%20japan%20suicide&st=cse

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/international/asia_pacific/view.bg?articleid=1129152&

4 thoughts on “TTC Suicide Prevention Barriers

  1. I have invented big solutions to do with this. Simply write the gso@ttc.ca, before Sept 29th, and seek a comparative study from “traditional – platform EDGE DOORS” TO THAT OF THE NEW, UNIQUE AND NOVEL, INNOVATION,……..WHICH IS ‘NON EDGE PLATFORM DOORS.

    A straight wall about 5 or 6 feet back, all along the Yonge/Bloor, platform of “standardized automated doors”, with an IN SECTION, then OUT SECTION, IN SECTION, etc. will create a desparately needed “SAFETY WALL ACTING AS A DWELL TIME CONTROLLER.

    They say, unless Yonge and Bloor has a 30 second dwell, than no extra trains can be added with automatic train control. I hold this solution, and more.

    BUT WE NEED TTC TO STUDY IT.

    CALL ME AT 705-384-2404 IF ANYONE HAS ANY QUESTIONS. i MET WITH gARY wEBSTER FOR 1 HOUR WITH BIG SOLUTIONS, and he did not provided simple customer service, as to giving me a response.

    If you wish big answers and solutions to come to TTC (safety, reliability, efficiency, comfort), send an email to gst@ttc.ca, with your return address details, and your name will be added to the correspondense list, and simply ask for a comaparative study of NON EDGE, AND EDGE PLATFORM SAFETY.

  2. I leave a response when I especially enjoy a post on a website or if I have something to add to the discussion.
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