Blue Streetlight by Travis Nicholson
An intriguing, anecdotal finding was recently reported by some news outlets that the implementation of blue-colored streetlights has reduced both crime and suicides:

Glasgow, Scotland, introduced blue street lighting to improve the city’s landscape in 2000. Afterward, the number of crimes in areas illuminated in blue noticeably decreased.

The Nara, Japan, prefectural police set up blue street lights in the prefecture in 2005, and found the number of crimes decreased by about 9 percent in blue-illuminated neighborhoods. Many other areas nationwide have followed suit.

Keihin Electric Express Railway Co. changed the color of eight lights on the ends of platforms at Gumyoji Station in Yokohama, Japan, in February.

Since the railway company introduced the new blue lights, they’ve had no new suicide attempts.

This effect may be attributed to a few possible reasons (some of which are mentioned in the comments section of the article):

  • The light color is new and unusual, causing people to act more cautiously in the area (as a person is unsure what to expect in the unusually-lit area).
  • Blue is a light color almost universally associated with a police presence, suggesting it is an area of stricter law enforcement.
  • Blue may be a more pleasant illuminating color to most people, as opposed to yellow, orange or red (according to some research, such as Lewinski, 1938).

In fact, the article quotes from a professor at the end, noting it may just be an “unusualness effect:”

Prof. Tsuneo Suzuki at Keio University said: “There are a number of pieces of data to prove blue has a calming effect upon people. However, it’s an unusual color for lighting, so people may just feel like avoiding standing out by committing crimes or suicide under such unusual illumination. It’s a little risky to believe that the color of lighting can prevent anything.”

There is a lot of research into the psychology of color, but not as much has looked into the color of blue illumination itself (as opposed to the color of an object or wall). But some research looking into short wavelength light (blue) has demonstrated that it is a potentially effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (a seasonal type of depression; see for instance, Glickman, et al., 2006), and helps to reduce the stress response in fish (it hasn’t been yet tested on humans).

If this finding is robust and the behavior change associated with it is still prevalent a few years from now (when everyone has become accustomed to the new light color), it would be an interesting finding. A simple, inexpensive change might be effective in helping reduce at least one method of suicide (and reduce crime to boot).

Read the article: Blue streetlights may prevent crime, suicide

Photo credit: Travis Nicholson

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 45 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Dec 2008
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Can Blue-Colored Light Prevent Suicide?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/12/13/can-blue-colored-light-prevent-suicide/

 

Recent Comments
  • David Hawkins: Hi Samantha, Great share.I agree with your opinion.For the most time the reason of going to a...
  • I'm Trying: My advice to you Matt is to NOT do it. Scroll up a few posts snd you will see that I too struggle with...
  • Rishi: Really nice article Michael. Thanks for sharing
  • Baby cakes: This article sounds like it came out of an experience with strange ets orbiting the earth. Is this site...
  • Sally: Well here I am alone at Thanksgiving with 2 cats. My husband passed away in 2008 and the holidays bring back...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12050
Join Us Now!