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."

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

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

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities, Religious Education ...

Physics Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term from S...

Nursery Nurse

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Newcastle: Our client is looking for a N...

Maths Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Math Teacher - 2 Terms - Lincoln...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone