Japanese Railways try “Blue Light Special” to curb suicides

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

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

The East Japan Railway Company has put blue light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, in all 29 stations on Tokyo’s central train loop, the Yamanote line, which is used by eight million passengers daily.

There is no scientific proof that the lights actually help to reduce the number of suicides, and some experts are skeptical that they will have any effect. But other experts say that the color blue does have a calming effect on people.

“We associate the color with the sky and the sea,” said 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…”

Last year, nearly 2,000 people committed suicide in Japan by jumping in front of a train. They accounted for about 6 percent of suicides nationwide…

The suicides are causing additional train delays, with conductors describing them over public address systems as “human accidents.”

“Human accidents” – sounds like something the Pentagon or Karl Rove would come up with.

3 thoughts on “Japanese Railways try “Blue Light Special” to curb suicides

  1. gordeecampbell says:

    Maybe they should turn out the lights altogether. Complete darkness should be able to deter those suicidal Kamikaze passenger since they wouldn’t find the platform in the first place.

    • Cinaedh says:

      Great idea but you forgot to mention the trains would have to come into the station totally blacked out, too.

      Just imagine, nothing but sound.

      Then the doors would pop open and the commuters would sprint for the lights before the doors closed again, everything went pitch black and the train zoomed invisibly out of the station.

      It would be a most enlightening experience — in many, many ways.

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