More deaths on Swedish railways – researchers try to reverse trend

Published 10 July 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Researchers are trying to find different methods of suicide prevention that will reduce the death rate in the long run.

Last year, the number of deaths on the country’s railways, subways and trams increased, with the vast majority of cases being suicides. Researchers are now trying to find ways to reverse this negative trend.

In 2023, 100 people died on train tracks, an increase from the previous year. The majority of these deaths were suicides.

Researchers are now looking for ways to reduce the problem of suicides on train tracks. Johan Fredin-Knutzén is a researcher at the National Center for Suicide Research and Prevention (NASP) at Karolinska Institutet, but has also worked as a train driver and traffic controller on the Stockholm metro.

– I think we should start with the methods that we know have prevented suicide, that are described in the scientific literature and that are already in use today. Then it is very much about physical measures, he tells the tax-funded SVT.

Glass walls and QR codes

These measures can include platform walls, i.e. full-length glass walls along the platform. These can be found in some stations in Stockholm and Gothenburg. For outdoor tracks, they may include lower fences between the tracks.

A pilot project is also underway in Stockholm, where signs with QR codes have been installed to inform people where they can get help.

Fredin-Knutzén is currently conducting research to better understand the incidence and causes of suicide on bridges, roads and railways. It is a multi-year project funded by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket).

“I am particularly interested in developing scalable suicide prevention methods suitable for the transport system”, he writes on the Karolinska Institute’s website.

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