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JR installs anti-suicide lighting on platforms

69 Comments

East Japan Railway (JR East) is installing blue mood-lighting in its stations in a bid to stop people committing suicide on the tracks of a busy Tokyo line. The blue LED ceiling lamps have already been fitted at seven stations of the Yamanote line, which is used by millions a day, and will be fixed at all 29 stops by late October, a JR East spokesman said.

"Blue is said to make people's minds more serene. The blue lighting is in part an effort to prevent suicides, while it is also aimed at reducing misdemeanors such as graffiti and littering," he said.

In the first half of the year, police recorded 17,076 suicides, up 768 or 4.7% from the same period last year, according to the National Police Agency, which said one third of suicides were linked to financial problems. Sixty-eight people committed suicide at stations operated by JR East in the year to March, up from 58 the year before and 42 in 2006.

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I wonder if this will work. I heard some stations install mirrors to prevent suicides. The logic is if the person sees themself, they won't commit suicide.

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JR East promoting LED lights should be the Headline. The article does not provide scientific evidence to support that these lights discourage suicides also number of people committing suicide on JR east tracks seems too small.

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What happens with the body once the person has committed suicide? Do they stop the trains and pick up evey piece, then clean the place right away?

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Well, in light of the new changes at the station, we might hear of instances where people approach others and say, "You're looking a little blue today. Is everything alright?" This may work.

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But they will still continue playing music that is so annoying it could drive a sane person to suicide.

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No "happy" music to work with the mood altering lighting?

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some14some at 07:48 AM JST - 21st September

JR East promoting LED lights should be the Headline. The article does not provide scientific evidence to support that these lights discourage suicides also number of people committing suicide on JR east tracks seems too small.

The families of the deceased might tell you that one is too many!

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The blue LED ceiling lamps have already been fitted at seven stations of the Yamanote line

I think it will send subliminal message to people who want to commit suicide to stop their intent.

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Committing suicide has nothing to do with lights or mirrors. It's all about proper upbringing, religious beliefs and personal strength. It's obvious that the Japanese people lack either all or one of those...

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Personally I think in my case, I'm going to feel a little more depressed going to stations with this kind of lighting.

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Mirrors make far more sense than blue light because what good is blue LED lighting during the day. It makes me laugh everytime someone thinks that religion can solve everything. Sure, I guess if you bend something that is lie only to control the weak minded sheep then you have an argument for religion to save the sheep from walking in front of a train.

Moderator: Readers, religion is not relevant to this discussion. Please focus your comments on JR's measures to stem the number of suicides at stations.

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Seriously?!

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As for the blue lights.... What a joke. Bandaids for cancer. JR should just reduce the cost of travel, that would ease financial pressures and surely eliminate more suicides than the blue fog....

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I am glad at least that JR has taken a step toward this issue. They will know if it would really work or not and somehow eventually they will have something that would prevent the suicides.

Moral science was taught in schools, most of the time using religion. It was a kind of protection. But today, with commercialisation, we realize that religious education is doing harm than good. But from a young age, children have to be taught to distinguish between, right and wrong, good and bad etc. People have to learn to fight the challenges that come their way. I am imagining that with the increase in mixed cultural marriages, there is a lot of positive contribution to the Japanese society. People will learn to change their way of thinking about material riches, pride etc.

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I think somebody should install new brains in the heads of instructors at MBA programmes, who teach their wards that the easiest way improve the company's bottom line and boost shareholders' dividends is by laying off employees and rehiring them as temp-help.

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I associate those lights with heroin and depression. They are sometimes used in public toilets to stop heroin addicts from being able to see their veins.

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When are they going to get serious and install gates on the platforms?

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Blue lights? Good start Japan! Now you only need to eliminate the overwork attitude of companies, the bullying at schools, the unnecessary noise that street junk collectors, politicians and bakka-bikes are doing and the general apathy of people toward each other.

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Committing suicide has nothing to do with lights or mirrors. It's all about proper upbringing, religious beliefs and personal strength. It's obvious that the Japanese people lack either all or one of those...

Utter rubbish - None of the factors you mention will protect you if you develop a severe mental illness.

Moderator: Readers, please focus your comments on the measures that JR is taking, not the causes of suicide. The causes of suicide is a different topic.

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I think they should install red lights! It will make all a lot more kinky instead of depressive!

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What the JT article doesn't mention, but other news sites report is that, other railways that have installed these lights have seen a drop in suicide rates on the lines with the lights installed.

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one third of suicides were linked to financial problems

Shouldn't the government be fixing the problem rather than patching the solution with blue lights. Sure it's a good step but JR is government run and people should be more focused on fixing the issue.

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JR is not government run, old JNR was before it was privatized into the JR companies in the late 1980s.

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Japan has about 30,000 suicides a year. Let's say these miniscule lights are effective at preventing a generous 7,000 people from commiting suicide from the trains.

Japan now has about 23,000 suicides a year. It's still the size of a small town each year. It's still among the highest in industrialized nations.

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Gainjinocchio, you make no point at all. The only inference is that you think 7000 lives are unimportant. BTW if you check suicide rates on Nationmaster (awesome statistics site) you'l find that if Japan reduced its suicide rate to 23000 a year they would be far below a lot of first world countries (such as Australia).

These lights will save nothing like 7000 lives but even if it's just half a dozen a year they've worked well.

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Seriously?!

Lights wont do anything. This is a social and cultural problem.

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Suicides at rail stations are undesirable because they play havoc with the morning commute. The purpose of discouraging them is merely to ensure that the trains keep running, so that the salaryman serfs can engage in their mundane chores unimpeded, and make it home for their daily bowls of swill.

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badge213: Thanks for the added info. My first reaction to this was that blue lights wouldn't likey help reduce the number of suicides... but if there is scientific evidence to back it up, then it certainly couldn't hurt. As others have mentioned, if even a few lives can be saved it is worth it.

However, the reasons for the high-suicide rate in Japan also needs to be addressed. As human beings, we all suffer sometimes but with support from family and friends we are able to make it through hard times. I believe these relationships need to be stronger so that a person doesn't feel alone and feel that there is only one way out. People who are severely depressed need to be able to seek professional help as well without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. The support systems have to be there.

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Blue lights make me feel blue. I think the will to kill oneself is stronger than blue lighting. How do you make a suicidal person serene? Why not pass out drugs to them instead or have counselors at each station.

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i think it works. i read on a blog that this guy was about to jump but stopped short, because of the blue lighting. well done JR!!

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I think they should install red lights! It will make all a lot more kinky instead of depressive!

I've heard it's because it's red that the chuo line has so many suicide...go figure...

Japan has a high suicide rate, but not the highest in the World. But what is definitely unique about Japan, it is this strong desire to show it to the biggest amount of people (except the ones in the forest around Fuji-san, Kegon falls, Sakurajima...). Why do some of them need to do it in Tokyo-station, Ikebukuro or Shinjuku? While they can wait for the Shinkansen near Yamagata or Okayama?

Also, a friend of mine worked on this topic and wrote a dissertation about suicide in history, and he believes that killing yourself is easier than taking the decision of killing yourself. If you already have taken the decision, then you have the capacity of doing absolutely anything. And I don't think those "heroin-addicts/gloomy" blue lights won't change anything.

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How about Japan stops spending money on this crap and invents in counselors and mental health help and education?? Just a thought.

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Thankyou JR East for your mesasures and the moderastor for reminding us to stay on the point. I agree the music is enough to make me wana jump, I can here it from my bedroom, .5km away behind 2 doors from (EVERY DAY!) 0500 (THEN EVERY 6 MINUTES) in the morning till MIDNIGHT. I realy think someone who is of average hereing can manage with 50% the volume. O and those blind trails have rolled my ancle, thanks JR you make me wana jump, When I have seen a blind person there with some one! so how many others have twisted ancles and sprained knees before Junmpin on to JR EAST?

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Those blue lights will now remind me why they are there and what I should not do, thankyou JR.

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i read on a blog that this guy was about to jump but stopped short, because of the blue lighting. well done JR!!

Hmm - a guy was suicidal, was about to jump, stopped short beacuse of the blue lighting....and then posted all about it on his blog? May be genuine but sounds suspiciously like a member of the JR East blue light project team to me!

If you already have taken the decision, then you have the capacity of doing absolutely anything.

I agree, especially if you are going to do it by throwing yourself under a train.

But I see other posts that say there is scientific evidence saying it does work. Any chance of posting a link to that scientific evidence? I am really interested in reading more about it.

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East Japan Railway (JR East) is installing blue mood-lighting in its stations in a bid to stop people committing suicide on the tracks of a busy Tokyo line.

As Beezlebub mentioned, the purpose is not to reduce the number of suicides in Japan. This is just a cost-saving device. Every suicide on the tracks costs JR a lot of money. I'm surprised they do not have travel posters up advertising fashionable and desirable places to kill oneself, away from the tracks. Maybe that will be their next campaign if the blue lights don't work.

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How about signs stating that their family will have to pay for the clean up??

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tmarie:

How about signs stating that their family will have to pay for the clean up??

JR considered that, but realized it would only encourage those who are angry at their families, perhaps increasing the problem. So they settled on the blue lights.

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Would be a great way to weed out future folks with hereditary mental issues. I know I would like Japan to do something about the crazies.

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I don't know about blue lights, if they help, great. The best thing is to have hope for the future and to know that no matter how bad things seem right now, they won't stay that way.

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Amsterdam "Red" Lights at Tokyo Stations. Yeah, baby! relax ! Don`t do it :))Stay Calm and you will be fine.

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As usual, Japan avoids actually doing something preventative. BLUE is not generally associated with happiness at all, but with depression, angst, despair, and more. Where did they come up with it being a good idea? I can just see a person somewhat intoxicated, standing under one of those lights late at night and feeling 'happier' with it. Pfft!

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oh great. a bit of mood lighting and next they will pipe in a bit of Kenny G. Mr. Smith is right about color association.

Hey, pipe in Miles Davis "Kinda Blue" as well. Or "Black n blue" by Louis Armstrong or "Lady Sings the Blues" by Billy Holliday.

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Makes people serene??? LOL! Now people will feel even more sleepy when they arrive at work.

Once a person decides to kill themselves no amount of blue light will change it. Perhaps not at the station but elsewhere for sure.

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Again not in the JapanToday article, but found in other reports:

"Other train operators that earlier introduced blue LEDs are seeing a sharp decline in suicides and accidents along their lines, including the Keihin Electric Express Railway Co. and the Seibu Railway Co. that have blue LEDs on their platforms as well as West Japan Railway Co., Central Japan Railway Co. and two other JR companies that have the lights at their railroad crossings."

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So it might sound dumb to some, though not scientifically proven, places that have had it installed apparently have seen a drop in rates.

So I wouldn't easily just throw this away as nonsense or a waste of money.

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When are they going to get serious and install gates on the platforms?

for once I agree with Sarge.

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"Blue is said to make people's minds more serene"

I know that a blue sky like we had yesterday makes my mind serene.

XXXX - For once? You're kidding...

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As usual, Japan avoids actually doing something preventative. BLUE is not generally associated with happiness at all, but with depression, angst, despair, and more. Where did they come up with it being a good idea? I can just see a person somewhat intoxicated, standing under one of those lights late at night and feeling 'happier' with it. Pfft!

Sigh. As Badge213 indicated, it's appears to be working in other areas. In fact, it's apparently working in your area if you bothered to look it up.

http://blog.canpan.info/dogenkasenaika/archive/1048

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Maybe the anti-suicide lighting helps a little but it still has no power to fully stop a suicider.

I have a suggestion.

Japanese need to add the electric poles near the end of the subway platform. Bolt the poles' bases down. Between the poles are the curtains. Curtains' height should be about 6 feet. The poles act as the curtain lifters in upward and downward directions. The subway security guards use a device to send a signal to the poles like a remote controller. A fairly long curtain between the lifting poles will prevent a suicider from falling down.

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So K-Mart has finally brought the blue light special to Japan? If this works that's fine by me. It's much less intrusive than gates. I would never have guessed what the lights were for if you hadn't told me though. I would have thought that green was the way to go.

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The blue light will attract insects and mosquitos. Then in fear of being hit, which gives itching, they forget to jump. Anyhow, then they will jump later at another time, another station.

It looks like the "St. Florians" principle. Don´t let the bad thing happen here, make it go away. Well, it does not disappear, just it moves to another place.

Finally, I wonder if a Salaryman feels the urge and nature calls to for a pee, will the combination of yellow liquid and blue light result in green drops on the platform?

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"As a further measure, JR will be piping in the soothing sounds of the ocean, reminding all salarymen what they are missing while they wait for their train." DOH!

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So rather than tackle (funding) the real issue (overhaul & revamping of the almost non-existent social services) JR installs lights hoping that the suicidal people move on to another location to kill themselves.......

Blue lights may cause a pause for thought, but I doubt very much it will change the mind of someone desperate enough to kill themselves. When will the J Gov & businesses wake up to the fact and realise it has a huge problem and something other than token measures needs to be done?

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They should play pearl jams cover "last kiss", I'm sure that will deter people from killing themselves :P

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Factual information aside, I feel this is one of those "Use more effort to avoid the problem, than actually deal with it" instances. I mean, can you imagine the daily routine of waiting for the train, and seeing those blue lights every morning, and knowing their purpose? It simply reminds people suicide is always an option. "Mommy, what are those blue lights for?" "So mommy doesn't kill herself honey"

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Before I fall over laughing, what "social services" would you like a railway operator to provide? So your question is two parts what should the government do rather then the railway operator.

Then again if you look at the numbers, millions upon millions of travelers a day, the number of "human related accidents" is quite low.

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Makun: I agree with what you're saying. Whether these blue lights are effective or not is not the issue. People are still avoiding the root cause of the problem and the other societal factors. The question should be 'Why are there so many suicides in Japan?' and how can we prevent them BEFORE it gets to the point where the person is standing on a platform about to end their life.

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Come into the light! Do they actually believe this will have any effect?

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"I'm gonna do it, you'll all be sorry when I'm gone. Oh, look at the pretty blue light suddenly I feel much more serene" FAIL Who came up with this plan and how much did it cost? A blue light is not going to stop anyone bent on offing themselves.

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So long as the Japanese Government and Media continues with fear mongering and showing people thatthere really is no hope for anything, suicides will continue. So long as parents fail to be so in this country to their children, suicides will be the norm. So long as companies and employers continue to demand so much from their workers with so little in return, suicide will always be seen as the way out. So long as Japan's society worships death, so will life continue to look like the drudgery it really isn't...

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Now, how about eliminating all the screaming bells and screaming messages. That almost drives me to suicide. Compare the noisy stations here to nice quiet ones in other countries, where musicians play, and life seems much more serene. JR East, and the other railroads, treat the customers like babies, announcing: don't forget anything, take an umbrella it might rain, train coming, train going, etc. etc!!! Maybe if people are treated like responsible adults, they may act like it.

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okay Nigelboy..you don't really know anything about Japan's Culture, in america even the color blue may mean despair, sadness, and depression. That doesn't mean it's meanings are universal. For example In America people wear white for weddings because it symbolizes purity, but in Japan and China white means death? Do you see now? I hope this clears up things! :)

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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I was watching a Japanese documentary a while back on blue lights. Was actually pretty interesting. It all came about because a country or city somewhere installed blue street lights, because the blue actually lets you see more details in the dark (I think the white lights made more contrast/shadows?)... and then they noticed a big drop in the crime rates and other negative stuff happening on those streets, and started a psychological study on them - revealing that it also reduces impulsive suicides. I'm sorry I have no references.

In any case, I think being open minded and doing something rather than nothing is a good thing.

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hannari: Your use of the term 'impulsive' got me thinking...When I first thought of these blue lights to reduce suicide, I was skeptical. We generally think of suicide as something planned. But there are actually two types (just as there are categories for murder):

There's premeditated suicide in which case a person has been suffering depression or mental illness for a long time. And there's impulsive suicide in which a person experiences a sudden loss or some drastic stressor. In the former, blue-lights are not likely to be of any help but in the latter, these blue-lights could prove to be a preventative measure.

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Blue_Tiger:

So long as the Japanese Government and Media continues with fear mongering and showing people that there really is no hope for anything, suicides will continue.

Good point. The government promotes suicide as a cost-saving measure. But JR would like people to kill themselves away from their tracks.

So long as companies and employers continue to demand so much from their workers with so little in return, suicide will always be seen as the way out.

Companies also benefit from suicides, as long as they are not held liable.

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Let's not be so judgemental about those who choose to end it all. That is the fundamental right we all have before us. From JR's point of view, the only valid consideration is the inconvenience that inconsiderate suicide may cause the general public train ridership.

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Japanese society is very much selfcentrist and selfish.No one help when needed and those people who are going to do sucide they have trouble no one help them, lightonly does not control.If light control why not develop in home and other places to install.Their main problem is job and stressess.Goverment just collect tax does not know how to provide job offer for people. Parlimnenatry does not know true sorrow of people they are born by ministry family.

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How about telling a few cheery jokes over the tannoy just before peak suicide time every morning?

JR could even employ a few top names on suicide blackspot lines such as the Chuo.

It would be much better than the obvious and patronizing noise mentioned above, and would complement the electric bird song nicely.

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