Up to 10% of suicidal people will choose this method which greatly traumatizes and victimizes others just doing their job.
One method people sometimes use to commit suicide is by placing oneself into the path of an oncoming train. Generally people who choose to end their lives in this manner will follow a different method for trains than people who choose subways.
In the case of trains people tend to stand or sit on the rails and wait, often for long periods of time, until the train arrives.
People will choose wooded areas and wait near curves or bends so the driver of the train cannot see them in time to stop before impact. People who choose to end their lives in this manner end up leaving one more victim as train drivers tend to become exceedingly traumatized and frequently suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a train they are driving runs over and kills someone. One can imagine the emotions of a train driver frantically slamming on the brakes of the train after shockingly seeing a person standing or sitting on the tracks ahead of them.
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Authorities have tried many different methods to prevent rail suicides. These include the installation of fences to prevent access to train tracks, clearing of brush and trees to give drivers better visibility of the tracks ahead of them so they can spot people on the tracks from further away and the use of video surveillance along train tracks especially in areas where suicides have occurred in the past. The video cameras are often linked directly to police stations and the police can respond quickly to clear the area of trespassers who might be contemplating suicide by rail.
While some of these methods might be effective a person determined to commit suicide by rail will likely succeed. The vast spaces they have to choose from makes total prevention near impossible. Roughly 10% of all people attempting suicide by train survive the attempt but most end up with severe injuries including amputations and brain damage.
Suicide by train is most popular in Germany, accounting for roughly 10% of all suicides. In 2008, 74 year old German billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide when he stood on train tracks not far from his home and was struck by an oncoming train. Merkle was distraught from losses he took during the 2008 financial crisis and his inability to borrow money to try and fix his finances. A great deal of Merkle’s wealth came from his ownership of pharmaceutical companies so he had access to any type of antidepressant class of drug or any type of drug he could have wanted to try and help himself or even end his life that way.
Suicide by train is also popular in England, Japan, Sweden and many other developed countries that have strict gun control laws. The most common method of suicide by far is self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Without ready access to firearms, suicidal people will often turn to trains which is an unfortunate hazard for the drivers of those trains.