MTA Says Suicide Is Leading Cause of Subway Deaths

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Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/2008 AFP

Sadly, three years of MTA data confirms what we’d long suspected: Suicide is responsible for most subway fatalities. That's 51 percent, or 78 of the 153 deaths from 2010 to 2012, according to numbers obtained by the New York Post through the Freedom of Information Act. The rest were accidents, with the exception of the two well-documented homicides that took place last December. This year, 58 percent of underground deaths were attributed to people taking their own lives. (There were two this past Friday alone.)

In response to the upsetting statistics, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said, "It’s time for the MTA to recognize that tackling this problem will require an all-hands-on-deck approach that includes better early-warning systems to detect people on our subway tracks, as well as input from mental health professionals," while MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz cited the agency's "aggressively launched" ad campaign to promote safety and forthcoming "intrusion detectors" pilot program, which would alert operators to the presence of people on track beds. Meanwhile, psychiatrist Rami Kaminski explained the grim appeal of throwing oneself in front of a train: "Believe it or not, when someone sets out to kill themselves they are worried that they will just get maimed, but when you jump in front of a train, that’s it, you die." And the most popular place for this? Union Square, which had four deaths in three years.