The effectiveness of installing physical barriers for preventing railway suicides and accidents: Evidence from Japan

Michiko Ueda, Yasuyuki Sawada, Tetsuya Matsubayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Abstract Background Installing physical barriers, such as platform screen doors (PSDs), on train platforms is considered to be one of the most effective measures to prevent railway suicide. However, there is little evidence on the effectiveness of such barriers. In particular, the effectiveness of half-height, as opposed to full-height, PSDs has never been assessed. Methods Using suicide and accident data between 2004 and 2014 provided by a major railway company in the Tokyo metropolitan area, this study examines whether the installation of half-height PSDs has contributed to the reduction of the incidents of fatal and non-fatal railway suicide. In addition, the study tests whether the installation of PSDs has resulted in the reduction of unintentional falls onto railway tracks. Results Our estimation using a Poisson regression model showed that the introduction of PSDs resulted in a decrease in the number of suicides by 76% (CI: 33-93%). Yet, the installation of PSDs has not completely prevented suicide, as there were cases in which passengers climbed them over. As for unintentional accidents, no fall accidents occurred at stations with PSDs. Limitations Our data come only from one train operator, and thus the generalizability of our results may be limited. We do not fully examine potential substitution effects. Conclusion Platform screen doors are effective in reducing the number of railway suicides. However, half-height PSDs are less effective than the full-height PSDs in preventing intentional entry to the train tracks. Installation of PSDs is an extremely effective method to prevent fall accidents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7294
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Japan
  • Platform screen door
  • Prevention
  • Railway suicide
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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