Stress takes toll on Moscow metro commuters

Underground suicides expected to rise as more Russians lose their jobs

Problems at home, worried about losing your job in the economic crisis, or just feeling down? Russian medical experts have the answer – take the bus.

Travelling on Moscow's crowded metro system is provoking a wave of despair among commuters, psychologists in the city say.

About 150 people commit suicide on the metro each year and the figures are expected to rise as more Russians are laid off and confronted with money woes.

"The roar of the oncoming train compounds stress and people have the temptation to solve all their problems with one swift movement," psychotherapist Sergei Nazarov told the newspaper Novye Izvestia. He also said that using the metro for long periods each day could lead to panic attacks and a paranoid fear about being followed.

In neighbouring Ukraine, the authorities are also worried about the metro blues. Regular electricity shortages mean that often only half the lights in the metro are lit, and the Kiev operators are so worried about an increase in suicides that dramatic measures are being taken.

All the "No Exit" signs are to be removed, because of the negative moods they can induce in commuters, reports Novye Izvestia. And there are plans to re-record the on-train announcements that the doors are closing using a child's voice, to promote a happier atmosphere.

The Moscow metro, much of which was built during Stalin's reign, is one of the most efficient in the world. Many of the stations are stunningly opulent "people's palaces", built in a socialist realist style. Nevertheless, using the metro can be stressful because of overcrowding and poor air quality.

A metro spokesman, Dmitry Gaev, said the number of passengers each day has decreased by 200,000 over the past few months, probably as a result of recent job losses. But he added that about 9 million people still used the metro system every day, so the drop in passenger numbers was hardly noticeable.

Foreigners and Russians from the provinces who move to Moscow often complain about overcrowding on the metro. Considerations of personal space are put to one side as passengers rush to fill the cars before the doors close.

The tide of human traffic is such that the drivers often don't wait for everyone to board the train before shutting the doors, often leading to an undignified scrum.

Dizzyingly long escalators lead down to the stations, which are some of the deepest in the world. Many were built with the idea that they could function as shelters in the event of a nuclear attack. The air quality so far below street level is very poor – many of the ventilation shafts are positioned close to main roads, meaning that the air inside the metro stations is polluted.

The situation is even worse for metro workers, who clock up 12-hour shifts deep under the streets of the Russian capital.

In addition to the health risks of breathing in polluted air, they also suffer from the stress of being underground for so long. "Over time every single station employee or driver gets ill in some way or another," says Svetlana Razina, the leader of the Metro Workers' Union.

But for all the problems associated with the metro, Muscovites are sceptical about suggestions to use alternative forms of transport.

"Using the metro is really unpleasant," said Dmitry Sharapov, 29, who spends 45 minutes underground each morning and evening to get to and from work.

"But what's the alternative? Drive, or take the bus? It would take me twice as long and there would be just as much pollution. If it didn't lead me to suicide, it would probably lead me to murder."

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Teaching Assistants needed in Chester

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teaching Assistants needed in Cheshire...

Male PE Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits