While riding a delayed subway one day, you hear the announcement that there has been a, “personal injury at track level.” Do you know what this means? This is code, at least in Toronto, Ontario for a rail suicide or when someone has chosen to try to end their own life.
Suicide like most terrible life events immediately puts things in perspective. On one hand we have human life lost, on the other being late for work. Hopefully you’re not the jerk with his head so far up his own ass that he’s not able to look beyond the delay in his schedule.
I heard this announcement, not once but twice in one night at two separate subway stations. Maybe December’s cold, glitter and gift giving had suddenly become too much…maybe something else, it’s a little late for the reason to matter now.
I wasn’t sure when I heard the announcement what it meant. I guess on some level I knew but was hoping for something else. In the complicated times that we live in, truth is the only thing that will set us free.
There is no reason why we shouldn’t be told exactly why there is a delay, in a clear statement as they do in other cities like New York. Vague statements with meanings that might not be common knowledge can only cause unnecessary confusion, frustration, impatience and insensitivity to the tragic event at hand. I overheard several people talking about a possible terror threat, others were filming what they thought was just fun commuter chaos until they got close enough to see the injured body on the platform.
We deserve to know what is happening so we can react accordingly. The mind can be a scary place and a stopped subway car that you are being told to evacuate, can trigger all kinds of colourful thoughts in people’s heads.
The most impressive character of the night was Joe Schmo coming back from his Christmas party annoyed that this was putting a damper on his festivities. Maybe he would have felt a bit more sympathy for the person if it was his wife, brother, daughter or boyfriend. It’s easy to judge a situation from the outside never thinking something so terrible could happen to us, until our loved one is lying on the subway tracks.
So what is being done to stop these tragedies from happening? The ultimate goal and the solution that has shown to be most effective is to build barriers along the subway platforms. Doing this is very costly, but can we really make something that has been proven to save lives about a price tag? Help line posters have been placed throughout every station hopefully being seen at the right time.
There is always someone there to listen, suicide is never the answer. If you are having thoughts of self-harm call 416-408-HELP, go to your nearest hospital or call 911.
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