The story -- of a middle-aged man's suicide on a stretch of track in Southern California -- gives voice to those bereaved and shocked and debilitated by the death, the man's wife and friends, a passer-by who witnessed the suicide, train engineers, and a father who faced an irony too horrible for him to comprehend or assimilate.It is a story that should be read from beginning to end without much of a hint about its details, so I'll share only a glimpse of the man's widow and his father:
"As I was driving in the rain to the hotel [after being told of the suicide], my first thought was that this is more than I will ever be able to handle," she said. "I contemplated slamming my car into the light pole ahead."A year later, she has taken up "public speaking, going to high schools and anyone who would listen to her talk about mental health and how to handle depression." She reports, though, that her husband's father "has never been the same":
He's fallen twice in recent months, and he was unable to continue tending to his goats, so he sold the farm. He cut off his phone service."Sold the farm": What an awful but apt description of bottomless grief.
This story about suicide by train illustrates the long reach of suicide's aftermath in all cases, showing how deeply it touches even those one might not expect, an ex-girlfriend who relapses on alcohol and a stranger who needs trauma therapy -- people who come face-to-face with victims in their final moments. Suicide, we are reminded, wounds people near and far from the center of a deceased person's life, as tragedy reverberates outward from the scene of a person's death.