Keep your eyes on the train wreck

Written on June 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm
Filed under: Personal

When there’s an accident on the road, drivers will slow down just a little. Maybe it’s because they’re curious what happened. Maybe it’s because there’s police cars and other emergency response vehicles lining the side of the road. When there’s something, anything, to be seen, people will stop and stare and gawk and pull out their cameras and take photographs.

Like on Sunday, when I was in the car with the family and there was a crowd near the exit of the parking lot of the mall. We were confused, as they were a) getting in the way of exit and b) there was a firetruck by the entrance as well. Usually, in the event of a fire, people generally try to get away from the smoke. So as the light turns green (and there’s still people moving away from the moving cars…) we drove forward a little bit and saw what everyone was gawking at. There was a man standing on the railing of stairs that’s about two stories above the pavement. There’s yellow police tape blocking off the area. There’s police officers around. There’s one officer speaking to the man who was balancing along the railing.

And there’s a bunch of people just standing around staring at the scene with their cell phones and cameras out in order to snap photos. Because it’s not every day that you see someone threatening to jump two stories. Because it’s just going to make your scrapbook that much better. There were people with young children (12 and under) that were gawking at the poor man. And while everyone should know about life and death, it still seems inappropriate.

There was nothing in the news on Monday or today for the local or provincial news. Perhaps the officers were able to talk him off of the railing, perhaps he only injured himself.

I understand how people have issues pulling themselves away from watching the results of a car wreck. I understand that we’re drawn to the general dark and perverse thoughts and situations whenever they’re around. When there’s a scandal going on, we seek information in the form of blogs and newspapers and magazines. When someone dies, their dirty laundry gets aired. When someone divorces or cheats, everyone wants to know who with and what’s going to happen to their careers, to the money, to the children.

Two stories… Isn’t a particular serious attempt at suicide. It’s not even close. And there was a crowd taking photographs of a man who was standing on a railing feeling like he had no other choices in life besides to take his own. A cry for attention, or a cry for help…

To be fair, I don’t remember the last time that I saw someone threatening to commit suicide less than twenty metres from me. I don’t remember the last time that I didn’t look at a car accident or at someone making a scene. I don’t remember the last time that I didn’t look on with morbid curiosity. Maybe it’s something that we’re all hardwired with. Like a need to see the danger in the area, no matter how closed off or artificial it may be. Maybe it’s instinctual to want to see the danger, the hazards in our vicinity.

But maybe… We’re all just really morbidly curious and some of us are better at hiding it than others.

6 Responses to “Keep your eyes on the train wreck”

  1. Jinny says:

    Really? Didn’t hear anything about it at all. But yeah, it’s very likely he could survive a two-story fall, so like you said, a cry for attention.

    Actually, thinking about it, I don’t hear much about anything in local news -.- I found out from Clayton that some drunk guy got hit by a drunk driver out on Austin by the John B Pub. Ironic.

  2. nichola says:

    Oh dear, that poor guy! I think it is deadful how people can gawp at others misfortunes, however since it wasn’t in the newspaper maybe he didnt jump? I hope he didn’t anyway, its an awful thing to take your own life :(

  3. Jenna says:

    There was also a suicide attempt several days ago at Metro town someone threatened to commit suicide by jumping into the tracks of an oncoming train.

    Like you said most of this people are crying out for help.

  4. Caity says:

    Living in New York, I can totally relate. We call it “rubbernecking.” Every day on the way to work, at least once, there will be something ridiculous like everyone pulled over watching someone change their tire or someone putting gas in their car on the side of the road. It makes me angry.

    I hope that guy was okay. If it were me, I’d give the guy some privacy, keep going, and say a prayer.

  5. Kelsey says:

    Suicides aren’t shown on the news or in the papers. I remember my mom talking about how this guy jumped off the roof of the office building across the street from hers and he went splat on the pavement. Not part of the evening news. There’s this stigma against publicizing suicides. Perhaps it’s to keep other people from doing it to get a front page obit. Or maybe for another reason.
    Also, I think it’s odd that the police weren’t trying harder to shoo other people away. After all, they close bridges when people try to jump off any of the bridges in the city. Even if it’s a measly two story fall, shouldn’t this guy be given the same respect?

  6. Elle says:

    Like Kelsey said, I’m sure that don’t publicize it. If it’s a cry for attention, being a news story is good attention. That’s why I thought. that and it could be seen as encouragement.

    I hope he is okay, and gets the help he needs. And I hope you’re not too traumatized

Leave a Reply