After national football goalkeeper Robert Enke killed himself on November 10 by putting himself in the path of a train, increased attention has been focussed on clinical depression, from which he suffered.
But Lutz Schreiber, head of the drivers' union in northern Germany told weekly magazine Focus that it should also be recognised that choosing to use a train to commit suicide was unfair.
He said the decision to commit suicide was “a private decision which must be respected.” But he added, “Train drivers suffer terribly when the railway is abused in this way to take life.”
Statistics show that train drivers could expect to be unwillingly involved in two or three suicides during their career, he said.
The shock, horror and feelings of guilt experienced by train drivers put in this position were not to be underestimated, he added.
This was also mentioned during a church service shortly after Enke's death. Hannover state evangelical bishop Margot Käßmann said, “We cannot pretend otherwise – this is a very brutal death.”
She called for those at the service to consider train drivers. “Our counsellors could tell you much about what it means to be such a train driver, or to have to collect body parts after such an accident. That must in no way be made to look better than it is.”
Adolf Merckle, a billionaire businessman whose business empire which included pharmaceutical firm Ratiopharm, killed himself early this year by throwing himself in front of a train after his company hit serious financial problems.