While New York City’s suicide rate is nearly half the national average, seven percent of New York suicides come via subway-related deaths, according to a report from the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The report notes that around 475 New York City residents take their own lives annually, and based on numbers from 2006-2007, around 33 of those deaths come via subway accidents. TWU officials tell me that in 2011, 54 New Yorkers committed suicide in the subway with another 36 people suffering serious injuries. Men are far more likely to attempt suicide via subway than women.
The reaction to those who attempt a subway suicide has always been mixed amongst straphangers. Any suicide is disruptive to many people’s lives and often a cry for help. But a subway suicide multiplies that impact. The person driving a train that causes another’s death has to live with the accident, and subway riders who are trying to get to their destinations can be delayed for hours. It is, some say, the most selfish way for someone to take his or her own life.
To help prevent suicides and otherwise address crisis intervention, the city runs a hotline at 1-800-LIFENET and has more information available on its website.