Suicide By Jumping Tracks (2004-06-18)

The latest report on suicide is out.  There were more people committing suicide last year than previous years.  Out of over 30,000 people who killed themselves, many were in their 50's, the hardest hit due to a sluggish economy.  Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death in Japan.

A common way people choose to end their lives is by jumping off buildings or train tracks.  I don't ride on many JR trains, but out of the limited times I did, there had been disruption caused by track jumpers on the Keihintouhoku Line and Saikyo Line.  In a suicide situation,  the driver would announce through the PA system that there was a "Body Accident" and the train would make a sudden stop at the next station.  Every passenger would remain very quiet and no one would grumble or even pull a long face.  Most people would wait it out till the train resumes operation, a few would get off and take other trains.  The situation is constantly up-dated, every coupla minutes or so.  Passengers would be informed of the progress of the clean-up and when the train would restart.  It's all done with practiced precision and incredible speed.

When someone commits suicide by jumping tracks, his/her family has to pay a fine to the train company for disrupting traffic and causing inconvenience to fellow passengers.  The bigger the disruption, the heftier the fine.  Thus rush hour suicide incurs the steepest penalty.  When I first learned this, I was shocked.  Not only does a family have to cope with grief over a lost loved one, they have to worry about shelling out money to make amends.

I wish people would think twice before killing themselves.  Suicide does not solve problems, it creates them and burdens grieving families and friends to clean up the mess and trouble they leave behind.  There are many words I can use to describe people who commit suicide, "selfish" is without a doubt one of them.

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