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Shin-Koiwa station struggles to avoid status of 'suicide spot'

35 Comments

"There had been occasional accidents in the past, but what's been happening lately is turning our station into a 'meisho' (famous or popular site) for suicides. I think the most recent, on the previous Sunday, pretty much decided things for good."

The speaker, a young office worker who commutes from Shin-Koiwa station in Tokyo's Katsushika Ward, voices his concerns to Weekly Playboy (Oct 10), over the spate of suicides that occurred at his station over the past two and a half months.

The incident to which he was referring occurred just after 11 a.m. on September 18, when a woman in her 40s leaped in front of a passing train -- the fifth such incident at his station since July.

On July 12, a woman in her 40s jumped in front of a Narita Express train bound for Ofuna Station in Kanagawa Prefecture. The collision flung the woman's body against a enclosed kiosk on the platform, shattering window glass and injuring four commuters. The incident was widely covered in the media.

The next afternoon, July 13, a middle-aged man committed suicide in the same manner, but without any collateral damage. The next took place on July 25, when a man believed to be around age 30 took a jump. And on Aug 25, another young male followed suit.

Why Shin-Koiwa? Weekly Playboy's efforts to obtain comments from station employees proved fruitless, so instead, the reporter asked local residents for their opinions.

"Of course, people here are talking about it," said one. "The Narita express whizzes by Shin-Koiwa Station without slowing down, so I suppose people contemplating suicide must be thinking if they're going to kill themselves, that's the place to do it."

Indeed, all five of the recent suicides were standing on the same platform and chose the Narita Express for their trip to the hereafter.

"Once departing Tokyo central station, the Narita Express makes no stops until Chiba Station," says Ryo Ooi, an authority on trains and author of several books. "It uses the same rail line as the Sobu Line expresses. Around Shin-Koiwa, there are no curves and the trains are just approaching maximum speed."

According to JR East, Narita Express trains are traveling around 120 kilometers per hour when they pass Shin-Koiwa, close to their maximum of 130 km/h.

Ooi also believes that media coverage is likely to have led to copycat suicides.

"The media coverage of the first woman who committed suicide, whose body was flung into the kiosk, attracted a lot of attention," he says. "I think there's a strong likelihood that her death spurred the incident that happened the next day. And by the time of the third incident, the place had started to get a reputation as a 'popular spot' to commit suicide. For similar reasons, the Chuo Line became a popular spot for suicides."

According to Ooi, JR East is said to be mulling installation of barriers (called "platform doors") to discourage jumpers. But the cost is high and there's no assurance it will prevent future suicides.

At present, the station has added part-time staff and company retirees to patrol the platforms.

"Following an accident, the first responders at the scene are usually station staff and members of the cleaning crew," Ooi says. "They don't receive any special allotments, and it's hard on them psychologically. There have been cases when station workers who clean up a suicide for the first time went into shock and lost consciousness.

"Things are especially tough right now for the station workers at Shin-Koiwa," adds Ooi. "I would hope, by knowing this, more people will be discouraged from committing suicide, out of simple consideration for those workers who have to deal with it."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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Don't they have private security guards ??? Like for example, Roppongi has private security guards every Saturday and Sunday mornings on the Hibya Line. For fights, sexual assaults, people jumping on the tracks and etc. at roppongi.

Solution 15 security guards roving around at on all sides of the platform at Shin Koiwa. Plus AKB 48 music, sorry that will increase the problem. Hmmmmmm, I think they should play upbeat saxaphone & piano music.

" Akunamatada " from the Lion King

Laser light show at night

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

They need a lot of private security officers and barriers (if they do not have them installed already). television monitors with positive & creative programs.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would think some sort of psychological/emotional tactics are needed to break this cycle. Most determined people will climb over barriers and as for security, how will they prevent someone from jumping onto the tracks at the critical moment?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The government should offer a place to go for these suicidal persons, where they first get some counceling. If this counceling does not help, they can go to a special place. An unused open elevator shaft, more than 20 m deep will probably work. No need to clean up. Just fill up with concrete, if it becomes too full.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

According to Ooi, JR East is said to be mulling installation of barriers

and meanwhile the narita express keeps mulling the jumpers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In San Francisco, it's The Bridge. Tokyo, it's Shin-Kiowa station.

Shoganai!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's time to think the unthinkable: make the N'EX make scheduled stops at Shin-Koiwa. It's not going to inconvenience anyone, after all it seems that most of the existing passengers are foreign tourists and invisible men who have already accepted the fact it takes forever to get to and from Narita. You don't like adding 5 minutes to your journey sir? how would you like to be stuck in Nippori?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@electric2004: a simple review of your comments leads to a clear conclusion: your endorsement, sanctioning and approval of suicide is both criminal and heinous. Have you no heart for people who suffer? I retract that, based on your history--you antagonism and pessimism is only a reflection of you, not Japan.

I strongly suggest the color (yes, the color) of Shin-Koiwa should be re-considered. There is precedence in research to suggest the color of an area can reduce suicide. Scientific research is one thing, while the lame / ethnocentric / misanthropic comments of electric2004 are merely the misguided opinion of one (who needs therapy).

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Joel:

You know, in Japan about 30000 person each year commit suicide. If councelling helps to reduce this number, I am all for it. But there are some, where obviously nothing does help to stop them from following their plan. Why not providing them with a way to end their life that does not inflict so much unnecessary harm on innocent bystanders?

And, from ancient time, Japan is a society, which regarded suicide, if done the right way, as a honorful way. Now that swords are banned, another way might be necessary.

Probably you also know that there exist several DIY manuals in Japan, how to end your life. It seems they are selling well. Finally, there are already several mountain places and also steep cliffs near the ocean, where persons did commit suicide and which are (un-)famous for it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Barriers should be put up at all stations...it would at least make it much more difficult to jump and can more easily identify those who plan to leap. Also, it would protect others from falling over the edge such as the blind, children or people who are too focused on some sort of electronic device.

But in the mean time, why not have a councelling center set up at or near the station and have people hand out flyers to make it known that it is there. It may at least give a prospective jumper a second thought and could be used by others in the community who feel a little overwhelmed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

electric2004 (such an awkward tag, don't you have a name?)

I'm quite aware of the suicide rates in Japan. And however high they might be, I feel there is no reason to suggest a more efficient means to contribute to death and despair as your previous post suggested. Human life is human life, none more sacred than another. Why offer an "easy option to minimize the impact upon others" when every life is unique and colorful? Endorsing suicide (even in your half-way fashion) is utterly contrary to everything I live for.

Please, don't school me on Japanese history, I'm not ignorant.

It is not as though Japan has "cornered the market" on suicide. And I know how very simple changes can save lives. Why do you argue to the contrary? Are not human lives worth saving?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some persons really want to die. For example when they have a terminal illness that can not be cured but gives them terrible pain. Now, in Switzerland, people have the option to go to a doctor, who can provide them access to a special type of poison. The doctor will not give it directly to them, they have to take it themselves.

I agree with your idea that "a human live is worth saving", but it is not always possible.

And, if you are successful in eliminating Shin-Koiwa station, people will find another place. This is independent of what you and I are thinking about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Walk around most stations and you will find "Mental health" or "Kokoro care" clinics a plenty. Most you will need to book and usually there is 2-week waiting period for your 1st visit.

Surprisingly there are many house-wifes suffering from depression.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For me personally, suicide is not an option. But there are others who already have decided this for themselves. Then I prefer they do it in a way that does not potentially bring my life or the lives of others into danger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, trying to discourage suicides clearly has had too little effect. Perhaps electric is on to something, honestly.

The first incident in Shinkoiwa wasn't the first time someone's body was forcefully propelled from the impact and ended up injuring bystanders. It's only a matter of time before someone else is actually killed by one of these accidents. I remember a recent news story detailing a bystander who was killed by a building jumper falling on them.

Obviously, providing a dedicated place for people to take their own lives is monstrous and basically impossible in a civilized society, but some kind of campaign encouraging people hellbent on suicide to do it away from others could help.

Of course, the majority of suicides in Japan are apparently compelled by financial problems, so the most realistic and effective step would be more restrictions on loans and other financial reforms. But then again, the rich aren't going to be happy about restrictions and the haves obviously don't mind a little blood from the have-nots on their hands, so I don't picture this happening any time soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"But there are some, where obviously nothing does help to stop them from following their plan. Why not providing them with a way to end their life that does not inflict so much unnecessary harm on innocent bystanders?"

"Some persons really want to die."

"But there are others who already have decided this for themselves. Then I prefer they do it in a way that does not potentially bring my life or the lives of others into danger."

Would you have such a cavalier attitude about suicide if it involved a friend or family member?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Paul:

After a stroke my grandmother had to suffer for 13 years. Her husband and our family tried to take care of her as best as we could. When her end was near, she told us how happy she would be, if her live would be over earlier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pump the station full of nitrous oxide and keep everyone happy and laughing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

electric: Euthanasia is an entirely different deal (and something I can sympathize with) But you have to think that some of these jumpers could have been potentially persuaded from taking their lives if someone else had intervened on their behalf. Just maybe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hmmm......

I have buried grandparents. I have buried parents. I have buried siblings.

What I contest is the basic thought process behind suicide, that's it, plain and simple. Any attempt to endorse suicide is inhumane, plain and simple. Saying things like: "An unused open elevator shaft, more than 20 m deep will probably work. No need to clean up. Just fill up with concrete, if it becomes too full" is horrific, inhuman, and inexcusable. Clever arguments aside, saying such things are wrong on many levels. electric2004 (whatever your name is), endorsing suicide is morally reprehensible. Take ownership and responsibility of your words, you who seem so comfortable in people killing themselves. Such statements are a reflection of your psychological state more than reality itself. Please, are not people worth saving even in despair?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Joel and Paul:

I am definitely not against giving help to persons who need help. And if they can be saved, even better.

It seems Human Target got my point. Sometimes it is necessary to exaggerate to make people think again about their actions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yeah please japanese government give them their life. i know youre doing your best but please create a society which anyone can voice out their feelings. many becomes lunatic because they learn to keep everything inside of them (anger, hatred, frustrations) and its a social shame to show it off...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Like NeoJamal suggested, change the schedule and make N'EX stop at that station. If speed of the train is what makes this spot so attractive to jumpers, then telling them the train doesn't pass by that station at max speed anymore might discourage some people.

Totally agree with barriers. Like Sakurala said they will prevent accidental deaths. Perhaps not a nation wide thing but at least Tokyo and surrounding well populated areas. I've never heard of people jumping in front of a train on the prefecture I live. Unlike when I lived in Tokyo. Some posters stated that the most determined jumpers could climb the barriers. While that's true it could also give time to other people to stop them from committing the act. Combine the barriers with security guards on the platforms and they could be the ones to stop the jumpers from climbing the barriers. Could even make some kind of undercover unit that patrols the platforms.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Joel:

Probably you should never watch a variety quiz show in Japan, where the candidates are in 2 groups and have to answer knowledge and Kanji questions. Either they are in a tunnel, and when giving a wrong answer, the floor opens, and they fall to a virtual death. Or they are climbing an increasing slope and finally some of them are falling deep down. Or they are standing at a wall and are pushed to jump by squares filling the space provided to them before.

In other words, the virtual jump to death (e.g. game over) is very present in Japanese daily life, and widely accepted even for a TV programs watched by kids.

Basically by watching these kind of shows, viewers are endorsing this kind of virtual deaths.

And now the conclusion:

Imagine the shaft imagined before is still 20 m deep, but at a level of already 3 meters (as in the TV show mentioned above) there is an arrangement of soft boxes, which stops the fall of the person trying to commit suicide. The person does not know this in advance. This is important. Then the person can be caught in a safe way and be brought to specialized treatment.

No need to clean up - because there is only a virtual death, not a real one. Nobody hurt.

Then - after many people really realize that suicide is no way out, one can close this shaft and fill it with concrete to prevent real accidents.

Thank you for your understanding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pump the station full of nitrous oxide and keep everyone happy and laughing.

excellent idea! i spent the summer selling the stuff at festivals, no one killed themselsves. I conclude that that was a credible scientific experiement and everyone should have some NOS everyday just for giggles

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Thanks ASH! Gave you a thumbs up.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“I would hope, by knowing this, more people will be discouraged from committing suicide, out of simple consideration for those workers who have to deal with it.”

Well, wishful thinking. While that is most certainly the thought of most people not about to commit suicide, it's a pretty good bet that if they were planning to do themselves they're not all that concerned about what other's think or how this will affect them. On the contrary, I've no doubt in some cases suicide is committed in certain spots SPECIFICALLY to stick it to people.

Anyway, if the station wants to avoid the status of 'suicide spot' it needs to do more than just hope the name won't stick -- it needs to do something to help prevent the suicides. I agree with a poster above that maybe it's time the trains started stopping at said station, or that the trains slowed down a lot more there and in other 'high-risk' places. Not a whole lot else they can do. Barriers might help in a small number of cases, but not all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

look and learn what happened when *money to be your GOD!*****

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I doubt that I would be able to survive myself if any member of my family commited suicide, forever I would be thinking is there anything I could have done or said to prevent their demise.This particular railway station is the scene of too many tragedies, and I do not know what can be positively done to deter such terrible events, some sort of barrier perhaps? So sad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even 'poor Asian cousin' Singapore's MRT stations' are being fitted with trackside barriers/doors that open only when a train stops. The retro0fitting gathered momentum when several cases of people falling or are pushed onto the tracks were reported. Does Japan not look to 'inferior' Asian examples? Or must Japan's role-models always be 'rich, developed' Western countries? I find this very puzzling.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think the main reason for these suicides is the massive stigma attached to mental health problems, I know someone here who was very depressed and when I suggested counselling they refused saying they wouldn't want anyone to find out. Counselling should be readily available and the government needs to do something to assure these people that there is a place to go and by that I don't mean being water boarded by a priest to free you from evil spirits. So many of these cases could be avoided by just having someone neutral to talk to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Barriers on platforms are difficult. They must line up with train doors. As soon as the types of trains are mixed the problems begin so that is unlikely to be of use. Making the NEX stop is BS. Addressing the depression problem in the community would be a good start. And DO NOT give the problem any more publicity and it just might go away. Suicide by train ( reasonably often ) where I live gets zero publicity. And as for rail staff having to deal with mess, that is a disgrace. That is the job of people from the coroners office and emergency services. Japan needs to put its' phoney stoicism to one side and come to terms with human frailties.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Perhaps if they renamed the station "Basketball Station" it would prevent people from jumping.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I really do not like those barriers. They take up too much room, and don't fit into the sense of architecture of the stations. If people have to jump, they will. Better to spend the money on addressing the root causes. I know, I'm dreamin' here when there are fat construction contracts out there to be had. Too bad for Shin Koiwa, but in a few months, the popular spot to leap will shift. Meanwhile, Shin Koiwaians, take care!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

company retirees to patrol the platforms

So they'll be nimble enough to tackle someone about to jump? Or will they just shout 'dame' at everyone who attempts.

don't fit into the sense of architecture of the stations

There's a laugh - most of Tokyo's suburban and almost all of Japan's Shinkansen stations have no architectural style whatsoever and are just concrete boxes. PED's wont impact on them at all since there's no style to cramp!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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