I got home late tonight. Another “personal injury” on the train a couple of stops ahead of me. That generally means suicide. Someone just jumps in front of a train. I didn’t check the details of this case, though, so maybe it was just some sort of accident.
You know you are in for a long night when your train slows down and pulls into a station and they tell everyone to get off. Then you watch the train go backwards the other direction. Then another train full of people crawls in and everyone gets off and you watch that train go back the other direction as well. After a few of these maneuvers (which is actually pretty interesting to observe), there are easily several thousand people standing on the platform. It seems that the accident occurred just 10 minutes earlier, so I knew it would be a while before they cleaned everything up and got the system functioning normally again. The trains in Japan run on a mind-numbingly tight schedule, so when something really breaks the flow it can take hours to get things moving again. Fortunately, I was in Saginuma, so I could just walk to the pool and then home. No sense waiting for a packed bus or trying to find a cab for one stop. Besides, there were too many people. The lines were spilling out of the station into the street already.
The Japanese take these things in stride, though. I suppose they are used to it, sadly. But people just get on their way with almost no obvious complaining and acting out — which most certainly wouldn’t be the case in similar situations in the U.S., especially given the frequency and the population density. This was the second time this week on this one line, in fact. The first one was a 17 year old girl who killed herself and brought the system to a halt for hours. Both times it was an inconvenience for me (and thousands of other people, of course), but some family lost a loved one and that’s more important. Our lives go on. Their lives are forever changed.
Here’s an excellent program on suicide in Japan (Aokigahara: Suicide Forest). It’s well worth a watch. Very professionally done. Very tasteful. But sad. And also a recent news report from CNN. About 30,000 people kill themselves in Japan annually, so this is a big deal for this society. Thanks, Darrin, for the links.
If you are thinking of killing yourself, don’t. Reach out to someone. People will help. You are not as alone as you think. And if you are thinking of judging people who kill themselves, don’t. Not unless you’ve been there.