Holiday Jumpers

xmas blogWhile 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.

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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Signed w/ Love

signed w: love

Letter Series Chapter 5:

Dear Sir or Madame at the corner of Church and Wellesley,

We are so sorry we have failed you. We’re sorry that on this hellishly cold night, your home is an icy street corner.

In a quest for survival you have turned yourself into a living mummy, large sleeping bags cover you from head to toe. An unsettling image to say the least, a faceless mound of woollen layers that still aren’t warm enough.

No outstretched hand to ignore, no hardened eyes…

Please show us your face, please make some kind of small sign that you’re ok. Some sign that all hope is not lost, that you haven’t fallen too deep and given up on everything completely.

In an effort to offer some kind of gesture, a few people have left McFlurry ice cream. You could probably really use a warm home cooked meal, you deserve to be having one.

You deserve everything that you need. Healthy food, a warm bed and love. You deserve to be loved and taken care of.

This is our failure, what good are we if we can’t figure out a way to help one another. If we have allowed ourselves to become so accustomed to walking right by, without even taking a second glance.

We’re sorry you are suffering. Spending hours and hours on end out in this treacherous weather, when most of us can’t even handle the walk to our pre-heated cars.

Even with all the other atrocities happening in our world today, your misery matters. Your life matters. Finding a way to help you matters. It matters to me.

I searched for you the other day at the corner of Church and Wellesley, but you were nowhere to be found. Sending prayers and blessings your way, wherever you are.

Here’s hoping that life has decided to be a bit less cruel to you and that things have started moving in a better direction.

Here’s hoping that the light at the end of the big dark tunnel is shining so bright, that it fills you with strength and guides you to happiness.

Here’s hoping…



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Mental Illness: Breaking the Silence

The big, puffy dark cloud that is mental illness has a much thicker outline during the bitter cold winter months. Have you noticed anyone in your path that looked like they could really use a hug today? Maybe even just a reassuring nod or a quick hello?

You never know when you could be someone’s last chance. Someone’s last chance at trying, someone’s last sliver of hope, someone’s very last attempt at not giving up, forever.

Without the freedom to roam about that the warm weather brings, you’ll notice an accumulation of lost souls repetitively riding public transportation or setting up shop in dark corners of malls that are open late and that have security guards kind enough to pretend they don’t notice.

Save me,” you thought you heard someone whisper, but it isn’t your problem and you have enough stuff to do today.

No one could ever say that Robin Williams died in vain. His genius and the fact that he was so well respected enabled us all to begin a conversation about something that can’t help but remain a dirty little secret.

Recently everyone looks like they are battling their day, as if through mounds of heavy mud. The mud surrounds them in all directions as they take turns which way to fall, each time waiting a bit longer for someone to catch them or at least lean over to help them up.

In the name of avoiding discomfort we commonly try to deal with mental illness only from a safe distance. We tell ourselves that, “Crazy” is some eccentric stranger on a street corner deeply enthralled in a conversation with themselves.

It’s time to break the silence; these lonely ships shouldn’t have to sail in treacherous waters alone.


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