stand clear of the closing doors

MTA Says Suicide Is Leading Cause of Subway Deaths

Commuters walks on a platform after disembraking from a train at a subway station in New York, November 21, 2008. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authorithy (MTA) said that to plug a 1.2 billion USD budget gap next year, it must increase fare and toll revenues by 23 percent, which would raise an additional 670 USD million if the increase goes into effect in early June. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

MTA: Suicide Is Leading Cause of Subway Deaths