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January 25, 2011

As I’m sure you’ve heard, both north and south bound service came to a screeching halt this morning during rush hours following an apparent suicide attempt at Five Points service. Reports were that a lady in a wheelchair threw herself, sans wheelchair, before the approaching train. Electricity to the third rail was turned off to allow emergency workers to remove the injured woman, killing service from West End to the Civic Center. (Horrible pun intended.)

MARTAcides, aka Metrocides, aka suicide attempts using public transportation, are pretty common. Somwhere I heard that there are approximately 50 such attempts a year in London on the Tube, but I like to make up statistics, so don’t hold me to that. They aren’t that frequent on MARTA, and for that I’m thankful. But they are horribly senseless acts of stupidity and this is my petition for them to stop.

Let’s think about this. For starters, the lady this morning didn’t die. When you give it serious consideration, you realize that the likelihood of death by heavy rail is rather slim, being that you’re jumping out in front of a train that is in the process of stopping. It’s not a speeding train, it’s a slowing down, crawling to a stop train. It’s a gonna make you have a boo-boo train, not a smash the living daylights out of you train. Simple physics, here, folks. Sure, the lady this morning sustained some injuries, but came short of her goal. If you jump out in front of a train you’re looking at possibly loosing a limb, but unless it’s your head or you hit the third rail, you’re coming out of this one alive. (Side note, the gentleman who was successful late last year did it during a period of non revenue service, so the trains weren’t stopping at the station.)

Besides having really good odds of failing, throwing yourself in front of a train is flat out crowardly. It’s forcing someone else, the train operator, to actually do the dirty work for you. One and I watched a show once that followed a train operator on the Tube after a suicide attempt, and she was eventually unable to return to her job as a result of the trauma. There are people driving those trains, people who didn’t sign up for a job of running people over, and no one takes an incident like that lightly.

Outside of the train operator, you also have to consider all the folks on that platform and the train trying to go to work who had to witness that. Compound that with the people who have to clean up the mess, save the woman, and all the other commuters who were delayed and it really is simply inconsiderate. I should probably throw in some statement about how your life isn’t that bad and things will get better and you can get through this and you don’t need to end your own life, but, you know, if you decide that suicide really is the only option, find another means. I’m just saying. (If you are considering suicide or suffer from suicidal thoughts, there is help. Please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or the Fulton County Department of Mental Health at 404-730-1600.)

If you ever happen to find yourself down on the tracks in front of an oncoming train, there is space under the platforms to hide and save yourself. Crouch under the platform with your back to the wall, being sure to hold your head back away from the train and tucking your feet back so that they are not in the path of the feeler for the third rail, which can electrocute you. You could also lay the most still that you have ever been in between the nonelectric rails, keeping your head tucked down as the train passes over you. (Ridicuous disclaimer: I’m not saying try this at home, or your local station, or that it’s a good idea to jump down on the tracks to retrieve your cell phone, I’m just letting you know. It’s a PSA, in case you’re in the habit of standing close to the edge to watch the mice scurrying around, like me.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. theaccidentalcommuter permalink*
    February 3, 2011 12:14 am

    I’m only 8 days late but I just wanted to announce that CCT called me that morning to let me know what happened, encouraged me to drive to school, and even offered to drive me there herself. Only I had already left and was walking from the Civic Center station to a super-secret location close to Five Points for my first day of treating patients. Still, she deserves major credit.

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