Why Choose the Railway? An Exploratory Analysis of Suicide Notes From a Sample of Those Who Died by Suicide on the Railway

Duddin, Keely S. E. and Raynes, Benjamin (2021). Why Choose the Railway? An Exploratory Analysis of Suicide Notes From a Sample of Those Who Died by Suicide on the Railway. Crisis (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1027/0227-5910/a000807

Abstract

Background: The impact of railway suicide in the United Kingdom is extensive, yet reasons for why people choose this method are not clearly understood and research into the examination of suicide notes in this area is limited. Aims: Our study aimed to utilize the unique access to suicide notes written by those who died by suicide on the railway so as to gain a greater understanding of why people chose this method. Method: Descriptive and thematic analysis was conducted on 75 suicide notes for those who had died by suicide on the UK railway between 2010 and 2016. Results: Demographic findings from the sample were largely consistent with railway UK data trends. Five main themes were identified as being significant: “certain and instant,” “impersonal and non-human,” “ability to be planned,” “a good death,” and “bereavement suicide.” Limitations: Findings are based on suicide note authors who died by suicide on the railway in the UK, as such generalizability may be limited. Conclusion: Findings suggest that people select the railway for their suicide for the following motives: perception of being instant and certain and viewed as a good death, ability to be planned, belief it causes less of a burden on loved ones (via the perception of the railway as impersonal), and a prior experience of it being fatal (via bereavement suicide). Key implications in relation to prevention strategies and future research are discussed.

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