Written by T. E. Snyder
Image Credit: Pixabay
As a young businessman in midtown Manhattan, you sadly become conditioned and immune to the hustle and bustle of traffic, the constant whirling noise, overcrowded sidewalks, rude taxi drivers, emergency sirens and – falling bodies.
Such was the case of one woman, who decided one late afternoon that plunging head first into a sidewalk, from a sixth floor balcony, was the best way to add to this growing phenomenon.
Once we realized the approaching tectonic shockwave blast of sirens were going to whiz directly past us, we immediately covered our ears. Within seconds of rounding the corner ahead of us, the sirens stopped. We actually could hear the air brakes get applied on those monstrous fire trucks.
“Must be close”, I said to my friend. It likely took us another minute for us to get to that corner where all the commotion was happening. We were in no hurry. It was likely a fire.
No, not this time. Unlike what you see in the movies, there was no crowd that formed a large, semi circular ring in front of the building. No, just people diverting their daily commute around the hastily posted traffic cones. Police and first responders tried their best to limit foot traffic through the area, but this was not always possible.
Besides, if you really wanted to stop and watch the show, the best vantage point was across the street on the opposite sidewalk. But hey, again, this was NYC. People had places to go and people to see.
In the words of my buddy that day, “This shit happens all the time.”
Suicide by the Numbers
Between 1990 and 2004, there were a total of 7,634 suicides that took place in NYC. The three leading causes for NYC suicides were: hanging/asphyxiation (2,014 deaths or 27.9%), long fall (1,704 deaths or 23.6%), and firearms (1,407 deaths or 19.5%).
Research has shown that jumping from a height is more common in New York City than in the rest of the United States, a finding that corresponds to tall heights being an amply available and a lethal means in a city whose hallmark is high buildings and bridges, many of them well-known.
In fact, Manhattan, a plot of land that is only 22 sq/miles, was “ground zero” for nearly 51% of these suicidal jumpers.
That meant someone was plunging to their death every 3.1 days and since “long falls” was categorized as anything over a four story structure, mid town Manhattan was a popular destination to discover a moist red spot on a sidewalk.
Unbeknownst to us, we were now going to witness one of those 7,634 deaths.
We didn’t have to wait long. As soon as we rounded the corner, we saw her one-quarter of the way down into her death flight. This girl had a death wish and she knew exactly how to create the best effect. Maybe she studied past suicide attempts and realized their flaws. She obviously did not want to end up a quadriplegic. Like an Olympic high diver, she knew the best form was to go in head first.
There were many in the established crowd (she must have been up there for a while) who screamed out a trilogy of religiously blessed stammerings while she plummeted to her death. “Oh my God”, “Oh dear Lord” and “What the Hell” were commonly heard soundbites as she gave way to Earth’s unrelenting, gravitational pull toward the concrete below. I assumed the latter was based on that person’s belief that suicide was a sin in the eyes of their Lord.
I just saw it as a tragic waste. A life – gone forever.
How Death Affects Us
I have experienced death in a number of ways. Family deaths, deaths of friends because illnesses or traffic accidents, and unfortunately a few work related accidents. But, never in my life had I experienced a death like that. It was raw and thrust upon us without our consent.
Every person who likely witnessed it, was affected in some way. Instantly, I believe most experienced shock, dismay and sadness. From a position of reflection, it possibly changed a persons attitude on how fragile life is but this position could have both a positive and negative affect.
Reflection on a Suicide
From this one tragedy, it could spur ones need for a deeper, core understanding of life. It could be reflected in ones appreciation or adoption of a religious doctrine, self-reflection workshops, volunteerism or possibly sway someone’s educational direction by influencing them to pursue a mental health career. A witness could make this an opportunity to reflect how they can be a:
o better listener,
o practitioner of empathy over hatred,
o more patient and kind to their fellow man.
o stepping stone in recognizing their own flaws and seeking help
It could be a seedling event that sows disfavor, discord and/or solidify one’s own state of distress. It could be the emotional vanguard that leads someone to believe they are just a truculent speck to the world around them. It could be an event that spearhead:
o uncooperative behavior
o resentfulness or antagonistic mannerisms toward others
o psychosomatic conditions
o deep rooted mental diseases of depression
o crippling chain of events in their life
Suicide: Newton’s Viewpoint
If we look at this woman’s suicide from a purely scientific perspective, her plunge from her sixty foot berth, caused her to hit the pavement below at a maximum velocity of 62.14 ft/sec. at a gravitational acceleration rate of 32.17 ft/sec².
Considering she had no horizontal or initial velocity; meaning she was not running off the balcony or thrown downward, we can measure the time it took her to hit the ground as being less than 2 seconds.
Narcissists View of Suicide
There is a popular belief that “Narcissists rarely commit suicide. When a Narcissist threatens to do this, it’s generally as a means of manipulation” (Saeed. 2014)
Unfortunately, the facts do not support that view. Patients with cluster B personality disorders (including narcissistic, … and histrionic personality disorders) are at substantially greater risk for suicide.
(citing: J Psychiatr Res. 2017 Feb;85:24-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.10.020. Epub 2016 Oct 24. )
Other Areas Related to Suicide
Suicide is not a genesis. It’s the cause and effect of a culmination of several life altering factors to which one feels their erasive action is the only choice. It’s an ending.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Suicide is a public health issue that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities. In 2016, 1.3 million adults had attempted suicide within the past year and is expected to top 1.6 million adults by 2020.
Suicide costs society an estimated $50.8 billion in medical and lost work costs in 2013 and it’s expected to top $52.2 billion by 2020.
No Seriously. WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated.
Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide.
Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions go on to engage in a happy and healthy life. It can not be stressed enough to seek professional help if you feel that “life” is becoming too much for you.
THE RISK FACTORS OF SUICIDE
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention there are several contributing characteristics to a person’s overall suicide risk.
Health, Environmental and Historical Factors
Health & Historical Factors:
Health and Historical “stressors” exist because of issues or factors to which a person has little to no control. Many are predicated on chemical imbalances, traumatic physical injuries and genetic predispositions that we are only scratching the surface on, in understanding them in a clearer light.
Regardless of the existence of any Health or Historical factors, Environmental “stressors” are important aspects to understand, appreciate and speak about, because they are the only factor to which we DO have some control. Unfortunately, these environmental factors have been on the rise and in lock step with technological advances throughout the last 30 years.
CyberBullying: History and Pathway
Traditional bullying forced its way onto the web in the 1990s with the advent of affordable, personal computers. Whether in public chat rooms or private messaging platforms, total strangers under the cloak of anonymity have subjected others to cyberbullying at an ever alarming rate. In fact, the web’s anonymity provides the perfect cover for any user to harass or intimidate others without much repercussion.
While all US states have enacted laws to regulate cyberbullying, the wider-reaching effects can be harmful and are something we should be more aware of and take proactive measures against.
How Should We Act Online
Recently, an author of a blog, the theme of which is devoted to sharing conversations from popular chat sites and expressing her opinions on those daily snippets, shared a conversation and some screenshots of one person “yelling at” another user. (a)
The discussion seemed to elevate, with one user (tfe) stating that (Moon) should “get” a job and stop being lazy. (Moon) responded to (tfe) that she had a disability and rarely leaves the house.
My Response: I opined an uneasiness with the whole blog. On face value, this was nothing more than “standard, everyday” anonymous people having clashing personalities – but deep down, I thought any conversation or rebuke of her claim of a disability, was a taboo talking point.
In a public chat room, the golden rule is that you don’t speak about:
o Disabilities / Handicaps (b)
The Author’s Response:
Author took the stance that Moon was not disabled or handicapped. In fact, she felt this (Moon) character was just whining. How does she know? We will explore those reasons later.
This is where I became a tad unnerved. Instead of addressing the blog itself, I was now having that SAME unnerving feeling and conversation with the (Author) of the blog. Not only was she making “fun” of this Moon person by calling her a whiner, but she was making the same absurd claim that “Moon isn’t handicapped”.
I wasn’t sure she realized what she had typed. I took another shot at making (Author) aware, again, that people should not discount anyone’s claim of disability.
Some Logical Questions:
- How would Author know whether this Moon character is not handicap?
- How would Author know whether this Moon character is not disabled?
The Life of an Online Detective
People make the most preposterous claims online. Everybody is a detective and everybody thinks they know more about someone, than the person knows about themselves. Some of the common quips I hear:
- They claim a sixth sense.
- They claim they have super human powers of deduction.
- They claim they possess justice league level, sleuthing skills that are envious of every law enforcement agency in the world.
- They claim they have a “friend”, who is a friend to an uncle, that has a niece, that works with that person, and overheard them speaking in a break room and they know ALL THE DIRT.
- They claim because of their longevity online, they have acquired Harry Potter-like powers of “Insight and Truth”.
- They claim they have conspirators who will validate their claims- but offer nothing but additional conjecture
- They claim previous phone and text messages with someone, (because nobody ever lies) which proves their access to “intimate knowledge” about that person and …
- They claim they have private messaged this person MANY times and were previously a friend (with their fakey fake fake profile name)
“…and with this evidence, your Honor – I can say to everyone that she is a big “whiner” and … This is why she doesn’t have a job and why she is not disabled!”
A week after I witnessed the young woman kill herself, I was crazed to find out any information and her “story”. I couldn’t fathom why such a pretty woman would do such a thing. What caused her to take that final step?
One day I spoke with neighbors in the area who were posting flowers outside her building. I learned she was suffering from a severe anxiety known as agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a fear of large crowds and for someone living in NYC, this was a death sentence.
On top of that, she was a mother of a newborn. She kept herself inside the apartment twenty-four hours a day and never ventured out. From what I could gather, the father was quite upset that she refused to go out. They heard a lot of yelling and a lot of sobbing.
Although they heard her tell him, that she literally “froze up” in fright leaving the apartment, he never seemed to believe her. It became worse when they told me her condition was diagnosed by a psychiatrist. He knew – and he still denied it.
This could have been the genesis for her decision to commit suicide.
Assuming one’s silence is a confirmation that all is well, is a fools disposition. Someone’s smile does not guarantee their life is perfect. Conversely, we should take great heed when they express their condition to us. It’s when we dismiss someone’s condition, that utter depression can set in.
It’s not a perfect world and I admit, I am a model of imperfection. If I was to share my pains, disabilities or conditions, I would hope others would not kick me down because of it.
Our actions online and the amount of cyberbullying is at a toxic level. I myself have been a party to having spats within a chat room and I admit, some of the things I have said have crossed the line. I need to practice what I am preaching. I try my best to note my own faults.
Others need to do the same. You can pretend you know the person better than themselves, but unless you are their mother, father, sister or brother – the likelihood is that you really don’t. All you know, is an online entity who is nothing but more than an anonymous blip on your screen.
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(a) Although this happens often on this blog, I am not begrudging the Author’s forum whatsoever.
(b) In my opinion, I do not include disabilities or handicaps that have developed because of one’s personal choice from introducing alcohol or drugs into their system or into their daily lifestyle.