Subway train-related fatalities in New York City: accident versus suicide

J Forensic Sci. 2009 Nov;54(6):1414-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01165.x. Epub 2009 Oct 5.

Abstract

We examined the characteristics of subway train-related fatalities in New York City between Jan. 1, 2003 and May 31, 2007 in order to determine which factors are useful in differentiating accident from suicide. Subway train-related deaths with homicide and undetermined manners also are included. During this period, there were 211 subway train-related fatalities. The manners of death were: suicide (n = 111), accident (n = 76), undetermined (n = 20), and homicide (n = 4). The causes of death were blunt trauma (n = 206) and electrocution (n = 5). Torso transection and extremity amputation were more frequent in suicides. Antidepressant medications were more frequently detected in suicides, whereas cocaine and ethanol were more frequent in accidents. However, autopsy findings should be weighed in the context of the entire evaluation along with other circumstantial and investigative findings. In unwitnessed deaths where additional information is unavailable or discrepant, the most appropriate manner of death usually is undetermined.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antidepressive Agents / analysis
  • Benzodiazepines / analysis
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / analysis
  • Cocaine / analysis
  • Death Certificates
  • Electric Injuries / mortality
  • Ethanol / analysis
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Methadone / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotics / analysis
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Railroads*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Narcotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Ethanol
  • Cocaine
  • Methadone