Ja­panese rail op­er­a­tors give sui­ci­dal cus­tomers the blues

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

TOKYO: 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.

East Ja­pan Rail­way Co is putting blue light-emit­ting diode, or LED, lights in all 29 sta­tions on Tokyo’s cen­tral train loop, the Ya­man­ote Line, used by eight mil­lion pas­sen­gers each day.

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

“We as­so­ciate the colour with the sky and the sea,” said Mizuki Taka­hashi, a ther­a­pist at the Ja­pan In­sti­tute of Colour Psy­chol­ogy, a pri­vate re­search cen­tre 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.

East Ja­pan Rail­way has spent about 15 mil­lion yen, or $165 000, for the spe­cial lights at all the Ya­man­ote sta­tions.

The lights, which are brighter than stan­dard flu­o­res­cent bulbs, bathe the plat­form be­low in an eerie blue light. They hang at the end of each plat­form, a spot where peo­ple are most likely to throw them­selves in front of a speed­ing train, said Norimitsu Suzuki, a com­pany spokesman.

Shinji Hira, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in crim­i­nal psy­chol­ogy at Fukuyama Uni­ver­sity in Hiroshima, spec­u­lated that blue lights could make peo­ple pause and re­flect. But he said, if rail­ways want to en­sure safety, they should set up fences on plat­forms, as sev­eral Tokyo sub­way sta­tions have. The bar­ri­ers have slid­ing doors that al­low pas­sen­gers ac­cess to the trains. – Sapa-AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.