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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Sales, Birmingham

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Manchester

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT)

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are active...

Calling All NQT's

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are active...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game