Introduction Railway suicides are a suicidal behaviour which strongly impact psychological and socioeconomic aspects of the railway company, its employees and possible eye witnesses. The German Railway Suicide Prevention Project was carried out in 2002 aimed to prevent suicidal acts on German Railway net by a variety of measurements. The present study evaluated the impact of this project on the number of suicides during an observation period from 1998 to 2006.
Methods The data base of the present study is derived from the Event Database Safety (EDS), which is the national central registry of all person accidents in the context of the national German railway company covering the entire German railway track system excluding municipal subway providers. We compared the railway suicide rate 4 years before and after starting the project by defining an “index group” (1998–2001) and a “control group” (2003–2006) using Poisson regression with estimating the average percentage change (APC).
Results The absolute number of suicidal events on the railway track system decreased from 1006 in 1998 to 724 in 2006. The mean suicide rate in the control years was 13.9% (95% CI 6.9 to 20.4) lower compared to the index years (p<0.001). Adjusting for the overall suicide rate attenuated the decline of the railway suicide rate (APC 4.8%, 95% CI 1.8 to 7.8) but significance remained (p=0.002).
Conclusion The present study revealed a favourable trend with decreasing railway suicide rates even taking the overall suicide rate into account. The preventive measurements carried out by the project might contribute to this development.