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OpryLeigh's avatar

If you were seriously inconvenienced by a suicidal/mentally ill person do you honestly think you could remain compassionate (please read details)?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25260points) August 28th, 2009

I was very saddened today to hear that one of the motorways close to where I live has been shut (and will be for the rest of the night I would imagine) because a man in his late 50’s jumped off the motorway bridge and commited suicide. No one else was hurt in his suicide bid but A LOT of people were sat in the cars for hours on the motorway (some may very well still be there).

I read this news on the website of my local paper which also invites people to comment on what they read. I was absolutely disgusted by the amount of people moaning about being stuck in traffic and even worse, calling the man selfish for causing so much inconvenience. It saddened me that there was a huge lack of compassion for someone so deeply troubled.

I realise that many people just wanted to get home after a day at work, some people had children in the car, some may have been hungry or thirsty (although the emergency services did hand out bottled water as well as putting portable toilets up) etc etc but the fact is, these people will be fine. They are slightly inconvenienced (and a don’t pity anyone who has to try and keep kids from getting aggitated in such situations) but once they get home they will get over it pretty quickly. Some poor policeman has to go and tell the family of this poor soul that someone they love has ended their life.

Having been suicidal myself in the past I am always upset by such stories so maybe I am being over sensitive.

What I would like to know is, if you were a driver in this situation do you think you would be able to have any compassion for this man? Please be honest because like I said, I may just be being over sensitive.

I would also like to add that someone who called the police when they saw the man threatening to jump left a comment saying that if they had seen the look in his eyes, no one would be calling him selfish.

Sorry this is so lengthy.

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27 Answers

aphilotus's avatar

As much as I am all right with suicide (which is not very much- I think it’s a legitimate answer in Right-To-Die fatal illness scenarios, but not as an answer to, say, teen angst), people who do it in ways that are private and quiet and easy to clean up, I get less angry at than those who go in public, messy, and upsetting ways.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that people were apparently unsympathetic. I think it’s a way of separating oneself from thinking about such things by getting indignant over inconvenience. Suicide and such issues are just too much for a lot of people.

YARNLADY's avatar

My compassion goes out to the living.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@YARNLADY Do you mean the living who are caught in traffic or the living who have just lost someone to suicide?

MacBean's avatar

Every time I’ve gotten to the point of being suicidal, the final tiny thought that kept me from doing it was “And I don’t want to inconvenience people. They’ll be so mad at me.”

rooeytoo's avatar

I have read that depression is repressed anger and that suicide is more an act of anger than depression, like it is the ultimate “I’ll show you” or “F—- you.” I am sure that is not true in all cases but in some it is.

When someone jumps off a motorway bridge, it doesn’t seem as if killing oneself is as major a motivator as making some kind of statement.

I feel sorry for the guy that his life had reached a point where he felt that suicide was the answer, but I also feel sorry for the people who had to sit for hours because of one guy’s act.

I knew a young man (late 20’s) who seemed to have the world at his fingertips but he committed suicide. His family was devastated and I always wondered what he was saying to them and the world by making that choice. Did he consider himself a failure, was he furious at his family for their expectations? Drives you crazy speculating because we’ll never know.

OpryLeigh's avatar

What upset me, I guess, having been suicidal myself is that there was something mentally wrong with this man, he had an illness that may or may not have been caused by something traumatic happening in his life. Because of this the chances are he wasn’t thinking straight so to call him selfish makes no sense. We are all selfish in some respects. Most things we choose to do, even if they appear to benefit others are for selfish reasons we’ve all seen that Friends episode right?! but when you are that mentally disturbed you are not deliberately setting out to inconvenience others because, chances are, when you are that far gone, you don’t even take in what is going on around you.

Yes, he chose a busy motorway on a friday that leads into a bank holiday but, I imagine, that was the last thing that was going through his mind when he woke up yesterday morning.

According to the police, as people drove past the scene, they were shouting abuse at the poor man, some were even taking pictures. Other people on the news website called him an “attention seeker”.

A cry for help maybe, but any of you that have felt suicidal will know that attention seeking, it is not.

It just seems that people don’t have their priorties straight and I can honestly say that if this mans life could have been saved, I would have sat in that traffic too.

Lupin's avatar

Be thankful this is not Japan. The families of the dead are occasionally charged for the inconvenience imposed on others by a suicide in front of a commuter train. Asia Times
I’m not sure how Japan Railway came up with the $70,000 charge but I’m not surprised.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Having everyone slow down to look is a big part of the problem. Getting an ambulance to the scene, and a crime unit to photograph holds up traffic for a certain amount of time. If it were a fiery car crash, or any other catastrophe on a motorway, the frustrations really lie with other motorists, who cannot help but rubberneck, thus slowing traffic to a crawl to see what the police are doing.

DrBill's avatar

Suicide is a permanent answer to temporary problems.

scamp's avatar

Being a suicide survivor, I think of it as much more than a simple ‘inconvienience.” The people stuck in traffic will get home a little late, but their lives will go on as usual. The jumper’s and that of his loved ones and friends will not. ~I guess my brother was more thoughtful when he killed himself, because he did it at home, and didn’t stop traffic.~

I find myself getting angry when people make snide comments about loss of life, whether self-imposed or not. When did we as a people become so cold and callused? Who gave us the right to judge? If we would take a short pause and really think about this for a moment, maybe we would have more compassion. Some choose to think of suicide as a selfish act. I say those who choose to judge rather than try to understand are the selfish ones.

tinyfaery's avatar

Hrmph. Stuck in my temperature controlled, comfy car with my iPhone and radio while some guys guts are being cleaned off the roadway, yeah, I’m thinking about poor me at this point.

Lately, this site is making me realize just why the world and so many people are just fucked-up. In every sense of the word.

scamp's avatar

@tinyfaery amen sister!! I wish I could give you more than one GA for that answer.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

yes, i would.
i can’t bring myself to be angry with someone because his death inconvenienced me. i don’t even have air in my car now, but i mean. i don’t know. sure it’d be a pain in the ass, but i wouldn’t be throwing a fit. i’d feel really bad that someone felt that they had to kill themselves. and that they probably have family and friends who love them a lot more than they even know, who are always going to have his suicide somewhere on their mind, as opposed to me being stuck in traffic for a day.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’d have compassion but would still bitch about the traffic, to myself or maybe a passenger but not to the point of commenting in a forum about the tragedy. Most people feel suicide is wrong and/or selfish so maybe some of their anger and irritation is a cover so they don’t feel sadness instead. With the bombardment of media, I think the average person isn’t as much desensitized as defensive and protecive; there’s only so much sadness people want to absorb.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some seem to be saying that if your relative died in the hospital while you were waiting in traffic because of a lunatic, or even worse, you are on your way to pick up your spouse who need emergency medical treatment, and stuck in the resultant traffic jam, you would say to yourself, “Oh, that poor man, I hope he’s going o be OK?” I can’t see that happening, especially you @tinyfaery.

tinyfaery's avatar

We’ll put that in the what if category. Like, what if zombies come crashing through my door. Please.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@YARNLADY I wouldn’t consider anyone who is suicidal a lunatic

YARNLADY's avatar

@Leanne1986 There are nicer, more PC words to describe suicidal people, but when they show the kind of forethought necessary to take themselves to a freeway overpass, and then hold up traffic for hours on end, they are not acting like a person in their right mind, therefore, lunatic.

scamp's avatar

When someone is suffering so much they decide to take their own life, I highly doubt they are thinking about whether or not they tie up traffic.

I don’t think the phases of the moon have much to do with that decison either.

~ We are so compassionate these days, aren’t we?~

YARNLADY's avatar

@scamp As I said earlier, compassion is for the living, especially those stuck in traffic with no way out. Compassion for the suicidal would have been to take him to a hospital when he needed it, not just let him go out and die, but it’s too late for him, isn’t it?

scamp's avatar

In the situation we are discussing here, you don’t know the suicidal person, so how do you suggest you take him to the hospital before he jumps? Are you saying we don’t have to show compassion for someone simply because that person is dead?

If the person you were transporting to the hospital dies while being stuck in traffic, does our compassion for that person end as well? I fail to understand your logic here.

YARNLADY's avatar

@scamp Are you suggesting that we show compassion for a dead person? Where’s the logic in that? Are the living just collateral damage, not worth compassion?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@YARNLADY Personally I find it very easy to show compassion for the dead AND the living. There may not be any logic to it but does there have to be?

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