A woman jumped in front of the train at the Northbrook station a few weeks ago. I wrote about the small memorial that sprouted on the spot for a couple days. Now a more permanent memorial, of sorts, has been established—this sign, an attempt to reach out to whatever tormented souls might be in the general vicinity and considering suicide.
I couldn't decide what I thought of it — rare for me.
On one hand, there was a desperate, we've-got-to-do-something quality to it. What are the odds that someone approaching the tracks intending to kill themselves will even notice it, never mind seize the aid offered? Given the general nature of the problem, isn't this an extraordinarily localized solution? Not much help to those wanting to end it all a block away. And what's with the handshake imagery? Is that really what a suicidal person wants? A good solid handshake? There seems something wrong, something oblivious and Masonic, something lacking about it. But I can't put my finger on it beyond that.
On the other hand, really, what else could be done? And it seems a problem that should be addressed somehow. Nearly three dozen people have been struck and killed by Metra trains this year, most of those suicides. Not a number to be shrugged off. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority put such signs in after a spike of suicides in 2012, and officials there consider them effective.
Maybe so. Still, it's such an small gesture at an enormous problem, it somehow feels inadequate, somehow both not enough and too much. It's a very big sign. I wouldn't be surprised if it sparked more despair than hope, if it gives more people the idea of ending it all than people it gives aid to. An unintended consequence, the way certain anti-drinking campaigns encourage drinking. It made me sad to see it though, again, I'm not sure why. Maybe you have ideas.
|Several readers mentioned my use of the word "Masonic" in the above. I wasn't implying something malign about Masons, merely thinking of imagery such as the above.|