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Most Popular Suicide Methods: Train

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. 


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User Comments
  1. Kate Smedley

    On March 26, 2009 at 7:13 am

    What an awful way to end your life, it must affect the lives of the train drivers very badly. Well written article, thanks for this.

  2. Lod

    On March 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Hard to feel sorry for Merkle but easy to feel bad for the train driver.

  3. Jo Oliver

    On March 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    like the bridge…i just dont think that i could stand there and know that i am about to be crushed by a train.

  4. Jade

    On March 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    no one should comit suicide!!!!

  5. Teagan

    On March 26, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    hiii !! luv u

  6. teagan

    On March 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    no body should doo that its baddddd!!!! oh yes i rock

  7. Lauren Axelrod

    On March 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Oh my, this is just plain bizarre. Interesting read Joe

  8. Daisy Peasblossom

    On March 26, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    An interesting topic, and well-written.

  9. James DeVere

    On March 26, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Loved the ghost train! Thorough for a sensitive topic – is it a series?

    Were the pix chosen by the online editor?

    Cheers . j

  10. Helena

    On January 30, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    In November-2009 German goalkeeper Robert Enke also died from suicide by train. Very sad.

  11. Realistic

    On June 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Nobody would do this kind of thing if there were legal methods by which one may end her/his life.

    Why are people trying all the time to impose on others what THEY want? If someone wants to die, why don’t let them? Just because YOU or your pastor think suicide is wrong that should not mean that it is really wrong for anyone

    Of course, we can exclude children from doing this, in the same way we prevent adults to marry underage persons. That’s something universally accepted.

    However, once a person has reached adulthood s/he should be allowed to end her/his life in a painless way. For instance, cyanide which is fast, and painless.

    But no! we want to waste money in using cameras in train paths, bridges, etc. , in establishing suicide lines, in strictly regulating medicines that can use to end one’s life and other stupid, silly, and ineffective measures

    IF SOMEONE WANTS TO SUICIDE S/HE WILL FIND A WAY. Often, because the peaceful alternatives are forbidden, such “way” will be gross, like jumping from a tall building, or throwing oneself on the train’s path. IT WOULD BE MUCH BETTER TO ASSIST PEOPLE TO DIE IN A HUMANE WAY IF THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT.

  12. Reality

    On May 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Realistic is so bang on. There is too much fear associated with the stigma of suicide. It’s the judgment that has been placed on the whole thing, like so many other issues that confuses and unnecessarily complicates the whole thing.

    Humane means and protocols could be put in place when someone has come to that place where they feel they have had enough…it’s called free will. But for some reason, society would rather see train operators/workers experience trauma due to the fact a poor soul could not find a better means to deal with their reality. What we don’t deal with, deals with us. What a shame.

  13. sandra turner

    On August 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    there is no free will with schizophrenia and we are all left to deal with the aftermath of this horrific death…we struggled alongside our son during what turned out to be the last eight years of our sons life. take it from one left here in the trenches the mental healthcare system in this country is broken.apathy abounds and those least able to help themselves, or to speak for themselves are at its mercy.

  14. charles

    On November 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    58 yrs old: that’s what I’m seriously contemplating – there’s no other way out than suicide.

  15. Joe Dorish

    On November 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Stay in the game Charles.

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