The post-suicide pain & suffering

Photo courtesy of
‘MEDFLAG 2009 – Mass Casualty Scenario – United States Army Africa – 090806-F-8133W155′
courtesy of ‘US Army Africa’

A few weeks ago I wrote about a recent suicide on the Metro tracks. A few commenters took me to task for being pretty harsh in my suggestion that if someone does not get help and is determined to kill themselves that they take another approach. As I said then, I think the harm they do to witnesses and the train driver – who are unwilling participants in their demise – is near unforgivable. While they’re clearly not thinking clearly I wish they’d think of others if they cannot think of themselves.

WaPo has an article today about the trauma these drivers deal with after someone uses them as a weapon against themselves and it’s heart-wrenching. Both in the descriptions from the drivers of the moments they’ll never forget and the descriptions of how they went back to work – or tried to – after long periods of adjustment.

After several weeks of office duty, she made her first attempt to operate a train, a daytime run on the Red Line. A training instructor drove through the Rockville Station. Then Lee took over. She was fine until they went underground. “As soon as I hit the tunnel, I screamed,” Lee said. “I was seeing that vision of someone walking toward me.”

Lee was out on workmen’s comp for five years, seeing a string of psychologists.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


3 thoughts on “The post-suicide pain & suffering

  1. five years? …seems a bit excessive…so that’s where all our Metro funding is going…

  2. Perhaps. On the other hand I think of how stomach-churning it is to run over a possum and think about how long I’d be remembering this:

    It took Julia Lee, 59, almost eight years before she could get back in the cab of a Metro train after striking someone who had climbed down from the platform in Rockville in 1988. As she rolled into the station at 35 mph, a man was reclining on the tracks, his elbow resting on the rail.

    “I screamed and hit the red mushroom” emergency brake, said Lee. “But we were right on top of him. I felt the thump-thump and knew we had hit him.”

  3. Don, you are right. Suicide is basically a selfish decision, especially in this type of situation. Having witnessed it myself, unable to change the outcome as I saw it happening, I can tell you that it is very much a life-changing thing to experience, not to mention a very deep trauma for some people.

    Suicide is never a good answer, but for those who are determined, I just hope they become determined to do it in such a way that people don’t have to witness it and in such a way that there is minimal gore and mess to clean up. Suicide, done well, will ruin one life. Done other ways can ruin many lives. That’s not what most people want when they think of ending it all.