Tag Archives: suicide

Suicide Up Close in São Paulo

I’ve never seen a jumper up close. Suicide where someone leaps off a tall building is always what you see in movies and usually a hero comes and talks the jumper out of leaping to their death.

However, after I had finished my sandwich in a snack bar on Rua Augusta in São Paulo this evening I stepped outside and saw cops all around the street. It was not clear what was going on, but then I saw two fire trucks arriving and I looked up and saw a young woman standing on the edge of the building.

She was not ridiculously high up – maybe just 4 floors above the ground – but even so I guess a 20 metre fall can go either way. She just stood there right on the edge of the building with no shoes on, just her bare feet inching slowly over the edge.

I started watching the spectacle because I wanted to see how the police would handle it. The cops in São Paulo are not known for their subtlety so I just wanted to see if they could talk her out of jumping.

One police negotiator was on the edge of the building close to her. He kept approaching with a phone. I guess he was encouraging her to speak to a friend or family member. From the way the phone kept lighting up, I guess he kept on trying to get a number from her.

But what was important was that this guy kept her focused on the safe zone. He never let her look back or look down, she was always looking at him or the phone with her back to the edge. While she was focused on him, two firemen raised a platform behind her and one suddenly grabbed her and pulled her into the safety of the platform.

She was kicking and screaming, but she had two big firemen pressing her down until they could lower the platform to the road. She was saved, for today.

I carried on watching because I wanted to see how the fire and police service handled this emergency and they did a good job. They diverted her attention enough to be able to get a platform behind her so she could be carried to safety, but as I walked away from this unusual street theatre I was left pondering a few thoughts.

Why would hundreds of people rush to take her photograph as she was released on the ground? Nobody on the street knows her story and why she felt that suicide was the only option. Why take her photo? Do people really want to get a portrait of an “almost-suicide” for their Instagram page that desperately?

She was so young. Perhaps 21 or 22 and pretty – not that beauty matters essentially, but it contrasts starkly with such a grim situation. What could have gone so disastrously wrong in her life by this age to cause her to want to just end everything? Perhaps if she can recover now and enjoy another 60 years of life with a family she might one day remember when two firemen made it all possible?

It’s disturbing to watch someone on the edge of taking their own life. For around 20 minutes I stood there wondering if the police could save her. When a second negotiator moved in and scared her I thought it was all over, but in the end both the police and fire service did a good job. They understood how to distract her and saved her life.

I walked home and still felt disturbed. Sometimes we all forget just how close we all are to not existing. When I read about the death of Jim Carrey’s girlfriend, Cathriona White, in the news today it was made even stranger by the fact that her Instagram and Twitter were all updated almost until the moment of her death. The actual switch from life to death takes place in an instant and to look at social networks anyone might believe a person is still here.

I’m glad that the cops saved that woman tonight, but saddened that in our modern smartphone culture a suicide is just seen as entertainment. And the taxi driver who got upset about the road diversion when I told him it was because of a suicide needs to learn about empathy for other people – I wouldn’t want to be his partner!

Hate Mail

I was never much of a Boyzone fan. Even so, the recent, and very sudden, death of Boyzone star Stephen Gately came as a shock. I vividly recall the time he came out as being gay 10 years ago. Perhaps he was the first ‘boy band’ or pop star to actually admit he was gay. Admittedly, the newspapers were going to out him anyway, but he chose to fight them by giving his side of the story, rather than desperately trying to cling on to the façade of boy-band normality – toned bodies and screaming teenage girls.

He could have tried going to the courts for a gagging order, but he took the right path and became even more of a hero to his fans – some of them probably struggling with their own sexuality – for doing so.

The nature of his death was certainly unusual. It’s not all that normal for a 33-year-old to just go to bed one evening and die. However, the initial results from the post mortem don’t indicate anything more unusual than a big night out and a joint or two being smoked. He had liquid on the lungs. That could easily have been from vomit during his sleep, possibly as a result of drinking too much, but none of us really know what happened until further information is released. It’s clear that there was no drugs binge or suicide though – it looks like a tragic accident.

Yet, take a look at what Jan Moir has been writing about Gately in the Daily Mail. What a filthy, disgusting, degraded piece of pond life she must be to write such an article in a national newspaper that just spills over with hatred and intolerance. She talks of ‘Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney’ as stars we should expect to go next – what kind of journalism is that?

Why does she make the assumption that people who live a different life to her all end up suffering an early death?

Why does she not accept that even stars can sometimes suffer fatal accidents or mishaps?

Why does she allude to Gately’s homosexuality as a fatal flaw that caused his death?

Why does she openly question the validity of civil unions, just because of Gately’s death and the recent suicide of Kevin McGee?

The Daily Mail is generally known as the Hate Mail where I come from. It’s a nasty paper read by nasty people who despise freedom, liberty, equality, and the values of the majority of people who live in the UK. Jan Moir once again demonstrates how the paper has earned this reputation, but it appears to me that she has gone too far this time. If the financial supporters of the paper – the advertisers like Marks and Spencer – are now asking for their adverts to be moved away from her page then surely it’s time for the editor to do something?

Sack her. Let her enjoy a holiday from hate.