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The socio-environmental determinants of railway suicide: a systematic review

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-01-10, 00:00 authored by Allison Milner, Lay San Too, L Bugeja, R McClure
Background: Railway suicide has significant adverse impacts for the victims, their family and friends, witnesses
to the incident, general public and train network. There is no previous review on the socio-environmental factors
and railway suicide. The research question asked in this review was: ‘What socio-environmental risk and protective
predictors are significantly associated with railway suicide?’
Methods: The review searched Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Scopus for English-language studies that
assessed the associations between socio-environmental (i.e. geographical, physical, economic and social) factors
and railway suicide from their inception to June 2013. It was reported based on the PRISMA Statement.
Results: Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. They were categorised into railway environments (availability of
railways and trains, accessibility to railways and familiarity with trains), population characteristics and impact of
media reporting. Findings from ecological studies using population level railway suicide data suggested weak and
inconsistent evidence for the first two categories. The evidence on the impact of media reporting was moderately
strong, with irresponsible media reporting being associated with an increased risk of railway suicide.
Conclusions: There is a need for further research activity to strengthen evidence about socio-environmental risk
factors for railway suicide. The focus of this research should be on the factors that determine individuals’ decisions
of using the railway as a method of suicide, with the consideration of a range of geographical, physical, social, and
economic factors.



BMC public health



Article number



1 - 10


BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, The Authors