For those unfamiliar, Jeremy Clarkson is kind of like a much more likeable British version of…well, it’s hard to draw a direct comparison, but Rush Limbaugh springs to mind. Conservative, loud and bolshy, He’s prone to making statements that annoy people, he hates the environment, foreigners (particularly Americans, Germans and the French), suggests that lorry drivers murder prostitutes, said that strikers should be executed and in his most latest controversial statement has said that people who kill themselves by throwing themselves under trains are “selfish”, as well as making a few other choice statements about the subject:
From the linked Guardian piece.
He has been accused of trivialising suicide and mental health charities like Mind and have called him “extraordinarily tasteless” and ignorant.
However, I can’t help but agree with him. There are hundreds of ways to kill yourself, and some are more scarring to bystanders than other. There’s a scale, is what I’m saying - most of us would agree that jumping off Beachy Head alone is less scarring than committing Seppuku at a children’s birthday party. We’d probably also agree that the person taking his life in the first scenario is not doing as much damage via his decision than the second, even though the results for the person in question are the same - they end up dead either way.
Am I a terrible person for thinking this way? We can’t really expect people in that state of mind to think in a rational way, but pointing out that certain methods are objectively worse than others shouldn’t be a cause for controversy. Obviously he used a bit of unnecessary hyperbole - that’s his thing - but I still think he has a point.
No, you’re right and so is he. Disruption? Meh. But the train engineer? His life will never be the same afterwards, I know a Cal-train engineer, and he still wakes up with nitemares years later. I think people may have some right to take their own life, but no-one has the right to ruin some other guys life too.
I don’t agree that the most important thing is to make sure the trains run on time, and I do think that bodies should be properly respected and retrieved, but it is absolutely true that choosing to force another person (the train driver) to unintentionally kill you is extremely cruel and selfish. ESPN once did a heartrending piece on a former train driver from New York City who was completely undone by a suicide in front of his train. He lost his job, became depressed and homeless, and was being featured on ESPN as part of a soccer team of homeless men.
Suicide is terribly sad and painful no matter what the method, but as you point out, there are ways to exacerbate the hurt. In addition to situations that may injure others (jumping where there may be people or vehicles beneath you, etc.) and causing others to hurt you (as in the train situation or suicide by cop), I think that doing it so that your child will find you is horrific. I have read of too many instances in which that had a permanent negative effect on the child’s life.
You see, even his point that he’s annoyed by the disruption to trains running I totally get - because there’s no need for it, as well as subjecting the train driver to the unnecessary horror of your death, you’re also disrupting hundreds of commuters for no reason whatsoever. Obviously, compared the former downpoint it’s very minor, but when it could have been avoided altogether due to the method of suicide I can absolutely see where he’s coming from, even if it does sound rather callous in light of a death.
Yes, you’re both right, this method of suicide causes trauma to some and inconvenience to many more.
What is Clarkson proposing we do about it, apart from leaving the remains to scavengers?
What punishment would you mete out to the perpetrators that would be likely to discourage them? Both Clarkson, and those critical of him, seem to be trying to score emotional points with no practical application. My problem with the article isn’t what he says, but that there’s really no point in saying it. And if he’s serious about the engineers just shoving the throttles forward and leaving the body to rot, it seems rather barbaric to suggest we make a rule of such callousness. It might decrease the inconvenience, but I think it ramps up the trauma.
Yes, it’s true that it’s a selfish way to commit suicide.
However (leaving aside his suggestions), that isn’t really helpful. People commit suicide for a different number of reasons, but one element is the “cry for help/ attention”.
When you throw yourself in front of a train during rushhour, you’re not consciously thinking of the train driver. You’re thinking of how you want to end it all. And sub-consciously, you want attention - at least once in your life, people will remember you!
How sad that if commuters upset about being late to work is the best some people can see for themselves to get attention.
The only solution I know of is to have treatment centers for the train drivers; barriers at popular spots (also to prevent accidental falls from shoving); coded language (they never announce it’s suicide, it’s always “damage to person” to keep others from following - this applies also generally to newspaper reports: if people already labile for suicide see a big report in the newspaper, they often get an urge and there’s a rash of copy-cats).
Puts me in mind of Juan Manuel Álvarez, who should not only have been executed for his actions (parked his SUV on the tracks and waited for a commuter train to kill him, but chickened out and ran, leaving his vehicle to cause a train wreck that killed 11 and injured hundreds), but executed with deliberate cruelty so he died screaming, with his final scream gurgling as he drowns in his own blood.
I don’t have a copy handy, but readers familiar with Atlas Shrugged might recall a passage about a suicide in which a man deliberately stages his death in a manner calculated to hurt others, i.e. slashes his wrists while lying in the bed of the bridal suite so the newly-married couple (including a woman who’d rejected his advances) would be the first to find him. While the character describing the incident expresses some sympathy for those who might kill themselves quietly, he has only disdain for those who make their last act one of willful hatred.
Well, that’s just what he’s like - hence my comparison to old Rush in the OP. Last time he made the news he suggested that strikers should be executed in front of their families. He apologised, but does anybody *really *think he wanted to see people summarily executed? I didn’t agree with him there, but it sure got attention like this has gotten attention. Maybe by throwing it out there - a taboo subject that few others would broach in this manner - he puts the notion in the heads of those are thinking about it that it might in fact be a selfish action and save a train driver and bystanders the trauma.
Making a train into an instrument of death is an asshole move towards the engineer/driver of a train – although I suspect many people who commit suicide in this manner think of the train as a huge impersonal machine and “forget” it has a person at the controls. :smack:
The engineer/driver invariably pulls the emergency brake and lays on the horn, and I imagine prays or wills that the train stop in time, but the momentum of the train is almost always too great for any of that to matter. Nonetheless, it’s my understanding that many “blame” themselves for the death to some degree, repeating in their head whether they could have pulled the brake sooner. You can sometimes tell when an engineer/driver has had a previous incident, because they honk the horn much sooner, longer, and more frequently than average when encountering that passenger running across the line at the last minute. They all honk, of course, but the one who stands on the horn probably has an unfortunate tale to tell.
Though the impact on the engineer/driver is clearly the worst part, I’ve been one of those thousands of people standing on a platform waiting for my work-bound train who have groaned and muttered curses upon hearing the announcement of an indeterminate delay for a “grade crossing incident” or “pedestrian incident.” I’m sure more than one of my fellow travelers has had the particular “leave the body parts for scavenging animals” thought flash through their head for a moment before reminding themselves that that’s neither practical nor moral.
In that vein, unless you are unfortunate enough to witness the incident, you don’t know until much later (if at all) if the incident was suicide or accident/negligence. I’m sure suicides are outnumbered by by passengers, pedestrians and motorists who aren’t trying to kill themselves but nonetheless cross the tracks when they shouldn’t. The pity one feels for someone who is in enough pain or anguish to kill himself is greatly reduced when it’s some moron going around the gates so they’re not delayed a minute or less by a train. Especially when they’re in an SUV or truck that could derail the train, as Bryan Ekers alluded to. :mad:
It’s always been popular to bash suicidal people for being selfish, and I’ve always found it extremely distasteful and callous. So it’s a given that people who kill themselves this way cause inconvenience and possibly trauma. The question is, who cares? Isn’t this guy just saying something insensitive to provoke people?
I know someone who works as a conductor on the railroads in New York. When they start on the job, they’re told that sooner or later they’re going to be on a train that hits someone. I’m sure it’s very upsetting, but it’s also a fact of life.
“Clarkson said trains should resume their journey as soon as possible following a suicide and leave the body parts for scavenging animals.”
Would this calculated callousness lessen the pain felt by the engineer, or the friends and relatives of the suicide?
No. It would increase it.
The fact that his “solution” would *magnify *the hurt experienced by innocent bystanders means that he doesn’t really care about helping them. His “concern” for the feelings of the engineer is a sham. He’s just an immature prick who likes saying outrageous things to get attention.
Last year or so, I was coming back with a very late train (scheduled to arrive at the main station after midnight) and just on the outskirts (Freising), we had a “person damage” and, since police was called, together with ambulance (and maybe relief driver?, psychatrists?), we sat over 1 hour in the train. The problem was when we finally arrived at the main station, it was difficult to get subway connections to get home.
And then two months later, the same thing happened at the same place again.
Nevertheless, besides feeling pity for the driver, I’ve also not been upset, because I thought “I’m being delayed by a few hours. That fellow, whatever problems he’s had, is either crippled for life or dead forever”. (I later heard a rumor that it wasn’t suicide, but a drunk person wandering onto the tracks out of accident :eek:)
I agree with him, they are selfish. Not only does it traumatize spectators, the poor suckers who have to clean up the blood and bits, but it delays the whole mass transit system impacted by that one train [by stopping that train, clogging the tracks with the train and the clean up and investigation, loads more people on other trains which delays more people because they can not use that train because it has more people on it, a whole set of expanding ripples of inconvenience and trauma]
I figure when or if it is my time to off myself, I will try for a reasonably sanitary drug overdose. Much less issue for those cleaning up after me. Hopefully I can perhaps even find some legal location and method for an assisted suicide. [my family is prone to alzheimers and parkinsons, I am already handicapped and physically I am never going to improve unless they make serious advances in stem cell applications and can do some serious repair/replacement on my body parts.]
I agree it is selfish, but suicide is inherently selfish. To a certain extent you have responsibilities to people: not bereaving them of a loved one to people who love you, not traumatising them to people like train drivers. Of course it can be more complicated, there can be many reasons, it is all weighted and relative. But there is an inherent element of selfishness. I don’t think it should be a problem discussing that, suicide is a very sad & complicated (& often personal) subject but that’s no reason to not discuss the selfish element.
My baby sister had to see the result of one of those selfish people. She said it looked like very bloody minced meat with bits of clothing. She was only fourteen at the time. And of course I had to drive over to pick her up from the next town over because of the delays.
Did you know there are people who have to clean the bits off the train? The bits get stuck in small cracks and need to be cleaned out. Don’t forget them.
It is, but so are a lot of things. Being selfish isn’t inherently bad.
I’ll grant that traumatizing other people is selfish and that it isn’t a good thing, but I have to disagree with you on this. With the probable exception of parents and caregivers, how can you owe it to someone else to go on living a life you don’t want? Doesn’t that create kind of screwed up relationship and priorities- they don’t want to live, but they have to keep living because someone else wants them to?
I know enough train engineers to know how horrific it is to hit someone with a train, whether it is a suicide or accident. I don’t agree that the body should be left for scavengers, but it absolutely is one of the most selfish and cruel ways to kill yourself.