Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And now, I interrupt this regularly scheduled humor for a serious moment.

Last night, a woman died at the Woodley Park Metro Station (my home station) when, reports say, she "placed herself in the path of the train." She stepped onto the tracks at 11:36 p.m. & died of her injuries this morning. She was from 50 years old & from Kensington, MD - & that's all I know about her.

But you know what? I don't need to know that woman to know this: To do what she did, she had to have been in a very, very dark place.

I also know that I am disgusted - do you hear me? DISGUSTED - by some of the comments left on reports of her death. A smattering: "All DC people who feel they need to end their life under the wheels of a metro train can all line up in one station and we can get get it over with in one fell swoop," and "This has gotten old and very boring. Just toss the smooshed crazies, drunks and attention seekers off the tracks and keep the trains rolling."

These comments read much like they did the last time someone died on the tracks (an occurrence that's become sadly all too common), & I cried when I read those one, too. Yeah, sometimes I'm a crier. Shhh. But don't some things warrant it?

These people who are "placing themselves in the paths of trains"? They're real people, & what they've chosen to do isn't some PC, clean term. They're someone's mother, someone's son, someone's sister, someone's best friend. They are someone. And for whatever reason, they are so despondent, so scared & alone & depressed, that they've chosen to step in front of massive, fast-moving trains as a means of achieving a quick, surefire way out of the lives that torment them.

And whatever happened to not speaking ill of the dead? To respecting life lost? To just having some goddamn compassion for your fellow human beings? These nasty, thoughtless comments come from people who are so busy, so self-important, & so concerned with their own schedules, with worrying that they'll be late to work or miss a meeting or be a no-show for dinner with friends, that they indulge in the anonymity the Internet provides them, feeling invincible & important & crueler than they'd ever have the balls to be face-to-face, whining about how their precious day was ruined. But hey, someone else's day was ruined, too, guys - that woman who died, for starters, & everyone who ever loved her.

You know where this is going don't you? Yeah, it's going there. First, I trust that you, the noble readers of this blog, are people who respect others enough not to leave sick comments like the ones that inspired this post. But here's where this is going: Many of you know me. You know my story, Dave's story. You have stories of your own, maybe. And if so, you know that this means a lot to me, that I daily feel the impact of suicide. I'm just a writer, & not even a "real" one; I'm just a blogger. But if I can make someone, anyone, think before they speak or act, then I'm doing something right.

So here's something cheesy but important: Even if it's just a single minute, take one liiiittle minute out of your day to think before you say something hurtful. And even better, think to say something meaningful & kind before it's too late for that person on a ledge or a Metro platform.

Are you thinking? OK, good.

My sense of humor & I will be back tomorrow.


  1. great post. that is insanely awful that some idiots woulfd post horrific comments like that on the article you read...what if her family were reading? even if they weren't it is still awful. i've had suicides in my life of close friends and its quite hard to move past them.
    so, thanks for sharing, and making me think.

  2. You are speaking the truth here. A little compassion and thought about others goes a long damn way. It is a dark and scary place these people are in and we should be thankful we are not in it.

  3. It is very sad that people talk about the dead like that. Not having respect for the dead, is a serious sign of trouble in a society I feel, just like abusing animals is often a sign that later in life a person will abuse people. I had my own battle with suicide, no, I never tried to take my own life, but my brother did back in 7th grade, I was in third grade. I was too young to understand what was going on, but I learned a valuable lesson though. This is a sad story for sure, but thank you for posting it.

  4. This breaks my heart, up and down. <3

  5. Well said, my friend. I wish people would reach out to those silently suffering. I know I am guilty of not always reaching out. We need to take a step back sometimes and really look at the big picture. Is our co-worker okay? Is our friend okay? Is our mother okay? We need to ask these questions but not only ask. We must take ACTION. Take these people out. Sit with them. Talk with them. Be there.

    Thanks for this and for the reminder.


  6. Thank you for putting this out there for the community to read. It truly is heart-breaking when people disrespect these lives and situations that they have no way of understanding.

    Also, my heart goes out to you after reading Dave's story. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  7. amen! i hate, hate when i read such hurtful comments on news sites. this breaks my heart.

  8. Hopefully some of the public service announcement space can be donated to a suicide prevention help line. I have a tendency to be cold and calculating (hence the anonymous posting), but if we know that a disproportionate number of suicidal people go to the subway, then perhaps we should focus some suicide prevention efforts in the subway. Sorry for not being more empathetic.

  9. Seriously people who leave hateful & insulting comments are the ones that have no life & a heart.

    I read about this on CNN this morning. :(

  10. This summer someone I knew ended things with a shotgun in his mouth. He waited till the people that cared about him most were on the other side of the world, and sent an email as a suicide note. Another one of my friends was first on the scene.. It was beyond devastating. No one had any idea he was hurting like that, he was loved by a lot of people.. He had what most would consider to be one of the best jobs in the world..
    Everyone is still a wreck, and while I wasn't as close to him as a lot of my friends, I was still close enough to feel the impact in a pretty serious way.

    I'm not sure how people can be quite so cold about it..

  11. The news of that story absolutely breaks my heart. I hate when I hear about ANYTHING pertaining to death, especially one where she reportedly put herself in the place for it to happen.

    As someone who has worked in the news industry, NOTHING disgusts me more than reading comments on news Web sites. The way people hide behind "usernames" and crap like that irks me. Man up if you're going to say something awful, or, better yet, don't say anything at all if you can't say something nice. Ugh.

    My thoughts go out to the woman's family and everyone else who has been touched by this tragedy.

  12. While I love your sense of humor it's posts like this one that make me a loyal reader. Thank you for always speaking out. You are an inspiration.

  13. That people are so cruel is beyond comprehension. This post should be broadcast EVERYWHERE for EVERYONE to read. THINK. Your words & writing are powerful. Your story is heartbreaking, but your determination to carry on & educate others is remarkable & something that Dave would be proud of.

  14. thank you. i know way too many people at my office who fall into the "cant be bothered" category. i would like to email this to them.

  15. Before reading your post I would say that I am a compassionate and thoughtful person, but reading your thoughts was a welcome wake-up call and slap in the face. I, regretfully, say that I think I've become one of those people who scoff at Metro situations like the one you mentioned, simply for the fact that I have about 3 hours of Metro travel to deal with each day/late night and those delays add up. However, reading your post, and really thinking about the people who created the situation that typically annoys me, made me think again. Having a mother who twice attempted suicide should, I suppose, make me think again before becoming annoyed with such situations, but it was your post that splashed some water on my face (so to speak) and I am very grateful for it. Thank you for speaking up!

  16. I agree. What would you do if that was your relative and you logged on to see those comments. it's disgusting.

  17. Sometimes people leave this earth by their own violent actions because no one heard their screams in life. They feel invisible and alone and just want someone to recognize them, even if it is after they are gone. Those who do not understand this level of sadness, have not lost those they have loved, have not felt isolated in a crowd, have not been frightened to the point of paralysis, and have not been burdened by guilt and remorse. They are so extremely lucky and cannot see it.

  18. You know my story so I won't share; BUT, what I do want you to know are so inspiring...please DONT ever stop writing...thanks! <3 Me

  19. I know the woman personally. I won't say who she was, but she was a wonderful wonderful person who became mentally ill toward the end, and as you said, placed herself on the tracks. I too saw the disgusting comments that you commented on, and let me just say, when I read this post, I started to cry. To know that so many people care about her, and that many people were as outraged as I was at these comments, just about makes my day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for caring.
    ~"Penny Lane"

  20. As someone who has never known anyone who has tried to commit suicide, Penny is one of my good friends and as I saw when she went through this, it is not easy. To the person that wrote this first comment: What kind of cruel, heartless person are you??? I may be hypocritical when I say this but if you have nothing nice to say don't say it. I speak for everyone besides you who has left a comment when I say: if you don't want to be bothered with this story don't comment, so be it. But there are people who really care about this lady. Although I didn't know her personally, I know what kind of person she was. She had a big heart and was always willing to lend a helping hand. It's people like her we need in society, I extend my condolences to her family.


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