Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 339–353 | Cite as

Predictors of Suicide and Suicide Attempt in Subway Stations: A Population-based Ecological Study

  • Thomas Niederkrotenthaler
  • Gernot Sonneck
  • Kanita Dervic
  • Ingo W. Nader
  • Martin Voracek
  • Nestor D. Kapusta
  • Elmar Etzersdorfer
  • Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz
  • Thomas Dorner


Suicidal behavior on the subway often involves young people and has a considerable impact on public life, but little is known about factors associated with suicides and suicide attempts in specific subway stations. Between 1979 and 2009, 185 suicides and 107 suicide attempts occurred on the subway in Vienna, Austria. Station-specific suicide and suicide attempt rates (defined as the frequency of suicidal incidents per time period) were modeled as the outcome variables in bivariate and multivariate Poisson regression models. Structural station characteristics (presence of a surveillance unit, train types used, and construction on street level versus other construction), contextual station characteristics (neighborhood to historical sites, size of the catchment area, and in operation during time period of extensive media reporting on subway suicides), and passenger-based characteristics (number of passengers getting on the trains per day, use as meeting point by drug users, and socioeconomic status of the population in the catchment area) were used as the explanatory variables. In the multivariate analyses, subway suicides increased when stations were served by the faster train type. Subway suicide attempts increased with the daily number of passengers getting on the trains and with the stations’ use as meeting points by drug users. The findings indicate that there are some differences between subway suicides and suicide attempts. Completed suicides seem to vary most with train type used. Suicide attempts seem to depend mostly on passenger-based characteristics, specifically on the station’s crowdedness and on its use as meeting point by drug users. Suicide-preventive interventions should concentrate on crowded stations and on stations frequented by risk groups.


Transportation Prevention Subway Suicide Suicide attempt Risk factors Epidemiology Poisson regression Austria 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Niederkrotenthaler
    • 1
  • Gernot Sonneck
    • 2
  • Kanita Dervic
    • 3
  • Ingo W. Nader
    • 4
  • Martin Voracek
    • 4
  • Nestor D. Kapusta
    • 5
  • Elmar Etzersdorfer
    • 6
  • Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz
    • 7
  • Thomas Dorner
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Center for Public HealthMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Social PsychiatryViennaAustria
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUnited Arab Emirates UniversityAl AinUnited Arab Emirates
  4. 4.Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research MethodsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  5. 5.Department of Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  6. 6.Furtbachkrankenhaus, Hospital for Psychiatry and PsychotherapyStuttgartGermany
  7. 7.Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Insurance MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  8. 8.Department of Social Medicine, Center for Public HealthMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria

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