Archive for Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Train stations use lights to stem suicides

November 4, 2009

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— Alarmed by a rise in people jumping to their deaths in front of trains, some Japanese railway operators are installing special blue lights above station platforms they hope will have a soothing effect and reduce suicides.

As of November, East Japan Railway Co. has put blue light-emitting diode, or LED, lights in all 29 stations on Tokyo’s central train loop, the Yamanote Line, used by 8 million passengers each day.

There’s no scientific proof that the lights actually reduce suicides, and some experts are skeptical it will have any effect. But others say blue does have a calming effect on people.

“We associate the color with the sky and the sea,” Mizuki Takahashi, a therapist at the Japan Institute of Color Psychology, a private research center that was not involved in the lighting project. “It has a calming effect on agitated people, or people obsessed with one particular thing, which in this case is committing suicide.”

Suicide rates in Japan have risen this year amid economic woes, and could surpass the record 34,427 deaths in 2003.

Last year, nearly 2,000 people committed suicide in Japan by jumping in front of a train, about 6 percent of such deaths nationwide.

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