September 1, 2010

Things you get to read about yourself in the newspaper after you survive a 39-story jump from a building in Manhattan.

From today's Daily News, the story of a failed suicide:

1. The headline says the man — Thomas Magill — "lives to tell tale," but the "tale" he's told so far is "My leg! My leg!"

2. A construction worker who witnessed the fall has opined that the man survived not because he landed on a red 2008 Dodge Charger, but because the car contained a set of rosary beads.

3. He landed feet first, "twisted like a pretzel," in the backseat of the car. The car seat! That, not God, accounts for the soft landing, as shown in this reenactment:



4. The man's Facebook page shows that he regarded his interests as "being mean" and "making fun of people." Does that make you less likely to scold me for being mean and making fun of him? I am making fun of him, but I deny that I'm being mean. This post is part of my ongoing effort to deter people from committing suicide. I believe stories about suicide are full of the kind of sympathy that creates a romantic aura around suicide. I want to give suicide the kind of awful image that will make less easy to embrace than facing up to your problems in the material world.

43 comments:

DADvocate said...

I believe stories about suicide are full of the kind of sympathy that creates a romantic aura around suicide.

Working at a crisis center, I once talked a guy out of suicide using this approach. He kept saying how he needed to go out in some special way. I told him there was nothing sepcial about commiting suicide, but, rather, in hanging in there and facing the challenges life sends you.

Scott M said...

In order to think there is a romantic aura around suicide, you've got to be either severely yoked in the head or a Kamikaze pilot. I don't think there's anything particularly romantic about 72 virgins. Sexy? Sure, but not romantic.

Plus...most virgins are horrible conversationalists, whereas most Kamikaze pilots would have a great story to tell.

paul a'barge said...

Ummm, right into the back seat of this!!.

GMay said...

An ad for the Sierra Club? heh

MadisonMan said...

So a man who wants to kill himself falls 39 stories and lives. There are probably plenty of people who desperately want to live yet accidentally fall that far and die.

Life is so unfair.

MadisonMan said...

Here's the insurance question: Will the person who jumped have his Car Insurance pay for it? (Assuming he has it). Or will Mr. Construction Guy's insurance company have to pay?

El Pollo Real said...

Is being mean like having a Hertz donut?

Pastafarian said...

I didn't know that people occasionally survived such falls. The story mentions a window washer who survived a fall from 40 floors.

I've heard the tale of the Russian flight attendant who survived a fall from a mile or so, and a British airman during WWII who survived a fall with no 'chute; but in both cases, there was a lucky chance for an unusually long period of deceleration.

This dude fell on a Dodge Charger. That's not exactly much cushion.

The first thing I wondered when I read this: I wonder if first responders could have inflated those big air mattresses under the WTC and caught a few of the people who jumped from the towers.

I'd always assumed that it would be futile; but if this guy can plunge from 40 stories and land on a Charger and survive...maybe a few of them might have lived.

Pastafarian said...

MadMan, I believe that question, like all others, relates back to a Seinfeld episode.

Lem said...

This tread is not about Obama's fall ;)

edutcher said...

If The Blonde were here (she had to go to a meeting), she'd give you a big thumbs up, Ann. She worked psych wards for some time and will tell you most do it for the attention.

People like to think it ends it all, but they generally make a mess for their surviving friends and family. This doesn't mean some don't have real problems, but the decision is usually made in a fit of depression and panic.

Ann Althouse said...

The man's Facebook page shows that he regarded his interests as "being mean" and "making fun of people."

Now does this guy sound like an attention whore?

Pastafarian said...

I didn't know that people occasionally survived such falls. The story mentions a window washer who survived a fall from 40 floors.

I've heard the tale of the Russian flight attendant who survived a fall from a mile or so, and a British airman during WWII who survived a fall with no 'chute; but in both cases, there was a lucky chance for an unusually long period of deceleration.


The Limey was an RAF bomber crewman who fell from the tail blister of a Lancaster. Because he was over a heavily wooded area of Germany, he crashed through a number of tree limbs which had both enough give and strength to break his fall.

traditionalguy said...

Funny thing about the many Rx drug commercials on TV showing smiling and carefree men and women who now have no problems is the intriguing warning of the possible reactions that sound horrible. Most warnings then happily say "increase in suicidal thoughts" and command patients to stop taking the Rx and see a MD if they experience suicidal thoughts. OK, if I am wanted death, then why not keep taking it since stopping will lead to living. Never mind.

Larry J said...

The best description I've ever heard for most suicides is that it's "a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

As for surviving long falls, skydiving lore is full of such stories. Sure, some people do survive but I wouldn't count on it. The odds are very much against you. When I was a paratrooper, we used to say that "you can survive a fall of thousands of feet. It's the last quarter inch that kills you."

For any fall of more than about 1000 feet, the fallee is going to reach terminal velocity so additional height doean't matter because you won't be going any faster. In fact, for falls from much higher altitudes, you'll hit terminal velocity for that altitude and then slow down as you fall into denser air. (see: Kittenger, Joe)

k*thy said...

I guess I prefer to plant the seed and work with the idea of “this too shall pass.” Like Larry mentioned, it’s "a permanent solution to a temporary problem". These folks are in an irrational state – I’m not so sure their gonna get the joke.

The Crack Emcee said...

"I want to give suicide the kind of awful image that will make less easy to embrace than facing up to your problems in the material world."

Sorry but religious belief - like that rosary bead bullshit - ain't my problem. And having to endure such nonsense, constantly, is depressing enough to make one consider if life is worth living.

Religion is a plague - and kills just as easily.

Peano said...

It's a shame about the Charger.

William said...

I think Althouse has just the right attitude to handle mercurial, over-achieving adolescents scrambling for status in a hyper competitive environment. If I'm ever in the terminal cancer ward, I will seek others for advice on the flow rate of my morphine drip. I give people in intractable pain a pass on the suicide thing.....Nonetheless, as Emily Dickinson would say, there is no great need to hurry after death, because it will be kind enough to wait for you.

Ann Althouse said...

"People like to think it ends it all, but they generally make a mess for their surviving friends and family."

Speaking of mess, what about the mess on the sidewalk when you choose the building jump method of suicide? The drama and display of jumping off a high building in Manhattan shows that we aren't talking about someone who just wants to disappear. It's an active hostility that hurts everyone who is around to see it. Or be under it. What if someone was inside the car he fell on? That person would have died.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's a shame about the Charger."

There's a Seinfeld episode -- "The Bris" -- where a suicide lands on George's car.

"Well I just got the estimate. It's going to cost more to fix that roof than the car's worth... Someone's paying for that damage and it's not gonna be me.... swan dives from twenty floors, lands right on to it. What do I have a bulls eye on there? He couldn't move over two feet? Land on the sidewalk. That's city property. What are the chances, what are the odds? He couldn't do it again if his life depended on it..."

Lynne said...

There was a news story last year about a cat that fell a similar distance from an open window in a Manhattan hi-rise, IIRC.
It landed on a Weber-type grill on a patio on the building next door.
It walked away with only a broken toe.
A construction worker across the street got a picture of it falling on his cellphone.

Ann Althouse said...

"If I'm ever in the terminal cancer ward, I will seek others for advice on the flow rate of my morphine drip. I give people in intractable pain a pass on the suicide thing."

Oh, bullshit. I never say anything about those people... other than I'm worried that family and medical personnel try to influence them to leave early to save money and trouble for others.

El Pollo Real said...

What if someone was inside the car he fell on? That person would have died.

So convict him of something, let him serve his time, but for Heaven's sake let him go sell juice on the State Street mall upon release!

Rick Lee said...

I read an article once (I think it was in the New Yorker) about people who jump from bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. Some of them live and the report said that almost all of them realize they made a mistake and their problems weren't THAT bad, almost immediately after leaving the span.

Crimso said...

"It's the last quarter inch that kills you."

No, it's the sudden stop.

A while back I saw a documentary some guy made where he set up cameras to film people jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He included comments from friends and family members about each person. In one case, he included comments from the guy that jumped, as he actually survived.

Doug Wright said...

@lem: I cannot concur with your statement; it's all about Obama stepping into it!

wv: lablas no more!

Pogo said...

"The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please."

Lynne said...

I'm also reminded of Don Ritchie, an Australian who unwittingly bought a house right in front of a very popular suicide spot in Australia. His windows looked out on the jumping point.
He spent decades hurrying out to stop people from jumping, and supposedly saved 160 lives. He would usually simply invite them in for tea, and by the time they finished their tea they usually decided there were other solutions to their problems.
It didn't always work, but sometimes it did.

Pogo said...

Far better to listen to Radiohead:
"How To Disappear Completely"

Michael said...

There was a splendid article in The New Yorker a few years ago about suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge. Lots of very interesting stuff about the people who choose this ever popular place to end it all. But the most interesting part of the article dealt with those who had jumped but survived. Every single one of them said that when their hands left the bridge they immediately regretted their decision, their action.

Pogo said...

Very often, death is a juvenile romance (e.g. Twilight), whose allure dissipates with time.

For those with personality disorders or abusers, it is performance art or the last way they can really hurt someone. Totally hostile.

In middle age and mental illness, death is escape from the pain of existence. It's not necessarily hostile, because one cannot see even beyond one's nose when engulfed in that darkest grasp. If you think of others at all it is that they'll be better off without you.

In old age, escape again is sought, from physical pain, decline, debility, and sickness' demands. Far less hostile at this point than others.

MadisonMan said...

But the most interesting part of the article dealt with those who had jumped but survived. Every single one of them said that when their hands left the bridge they immediately regretted their decision, their action.

Maybe that's why they survived, but others didn't.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Crack... We need your point of view and we are thankful to know you. Pain leads to growth for all of us. Suicide is an intervening self murder. That is illegal. Suicide also comes from falling into a cult deception itself. So stop telling yourself that it can be caused by people disappointing you.

Michael said...

Madison Man: I thought of that too, but if you have ever stood on and looked over the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge you know that is unlikely. The survivors were not exactly in great shape, by the way.

Ann Althouse said...

"Some of them live and the report said that almost all of them realize they made a mistake and their problems weren't THAT bad, almost immediately after leaving the span."

I thought it was that ALL of them felt that way.

deborah said...

'MadMan, I believe that question, like all others, relates back to a Seinfeld episode.'

Like, 'what are the odds?'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5ncsjMVzcc

deborah said...

'A while back I saw a documentary some guy made where he set up cameras to film people jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He included comments from friends and family members about each person. In one case, he included comments from the guy that jumped, as he actually survived.'

That was a wild documentary. What did you think as the guy in the last scene stood on the edge and took the backward swandive off?

Methadras said...

Can't even kill yourself. Fucking idiot.

The Crack Emcee said...

Lem,

Thanks. Really. You're too kind.

AST said...

It was a cry for help. He had so much to live for.

I'll bet he really feels more like a loser now. HAHAHAHA!

Re: the romance of suicide: Look up "Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers" [The Sorrows of Young Werther] by Goethe. It sparked a rash of suicides across Europe in the late 19th Century.

wv: Shut up untsing!

AST said...

oops! 18th Century.

Robert said...

Suicide is Painless.

Fucking it up, not so much.

Lem said...

Lem,
Thanks. Really. You're too kind
.

Anytime Crack.