Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Unattended Death

 Station Road Bike Path parking lot

Last Tuesday in the early morning hours first responders descended on the Station Road Bike Path parking lot to deal with a tragic sad scene:  a suicide.

But one that endangered them as well, because Jim Tan, age 22,  had set off a chemical cocktail in his car, which posed a potentially deadly threat to anyone else who should come into contact with it.


Fortunately he took the time to post warning signs on the car window. This is the second time someone has chosen to end their life in this manner in our little town. 

EMTs stood by for hours, Amherst Police closed off Station Road and the State Fire Marshall and the regional state HazMat team arrived to perform a careful investigation/clean up, which took six hours.

Why are you just hearing this disturbing detail now?

Well, UMass doesn't want to acknowledge/advertise one of its students committed suicide, state officials don't want Copy Cats getting any ideas, and traditional media -- even if they did have the story -- would have privacy concerns much like those dealt with in the case of rape victims, although in this case the concern is for the family.

But the death occurred on public property, potentially endangered public employees, and highlights what could be a growing problem.

The People have a right to know.  



37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, better for us to know, even if others dies because of it.

Larry Kelley said...

Maybe we should follow North Korea's example and block the Internet.

Tom McBride said...

Okay, what about privacy concerns and copy cats? What if somebody else killed themself and they found there was a connection? Getting the most number of hits on a website isn't the most important thing in life.

Anonymous said...

Since he posted signs on his car window, and by following those signs no one got hurt. What is the big issue here? Why does the public have a right or need to know?
Your hyperbolic answer about blocking the internet in response to Anon 9:46's comment is as absurd as Ed's posts.

I really really hope someday someone in your family does something you would hope stays out of the papers (not suicide BTW - so don't throw that back at me. I would not wish suicide on any family)...and ends up in the papers because we have a right to know. Would be good karmic what goes around comes around.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Larry to pin another tragedy on UMass....

-S

Larry Kelley said...

Well Tom, if it does happen again you would not know about it without my reporting.

Anonymous said...

and you don't know the name of this person..."This is the second time someone has chosen to end their life in this manner in our little town. "
give the families a break.....no need to publish the names

Tony said...

As mentioned this happened in a public location -one that I happen to visit often with my family. I think it absolutely falls in the sphere of "news" that public should be aware of, and I appreciate Larry's reporting it.

Dr. Ed said...

There is a larger issue -- a much larger one -- of how UMass deals with issues of mental health which is to either say (a) there is nothing wrong with the student or (b) to lock the kid up in the psych ward.

There is no middle ground. And some of the things they have done are beyond reprehensible.

And we won't even get into the Star Chamber Lynch Mob that meets every Wednesday afternoon and decides which students' lives to destroy...

Dr. Ed said...

Mr. McBride -- If you don't want your family embarrassed because you committed suicide, wouldn't that be a rather strong incentive not to do it?

There has long been a social stigma, right on down to restriction on burials, that essentially has been a social means of discouraging this sort of thing....

And as to public service -- Larry indirectly did one here, how many of us with basic (circa '80s) first aid training would instinctively open a car door to (a) see if the person was able to carry on a conversation or (b) see if you can find a pulse?

Before the first Rolling Green suicide, I would have, and I'd been in the hospital if I was lucky, and that's only if I was lucky. I had HazMat training way back when -- but never would have thought of anything other than the basic ABC (and not my own "B").

I would have thought "Carbon Monoxide" and "leaky muffler" and "get the person out into the open air ASAP" because that is what I was trained to see -- and Larry publicizing this stuff is doing a good public service.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who, before jumping to condemn you, thinks you've raised an interesting issue here, about what creates the public's right to know?

Perhaps you shouldn't have mentioned the young man's name or his connection to UMass.

But I'm not sure that it's an outrage.

If you want to be pleased each and every single time, you don't come here.

Tom McBride said...

Larry, you said, "Well Tom, if it does happen again you would not know about it without my reporting."

Okay, and.....

Anonymous said...

Why do you ALWAYS feel the need to publish the names of suicide victims? This story would have the same impact without a name attached to the victim.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I believe that's the first time I've published the name of a suicide victim.

Main reason was because no other media outlet did.

Well, Daily Collegian did an excellent article printing his name, except they did not know the circumstances of his death.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry,

The USMC has a saying something to the effect of "twice is a coincidence, but three times is enemy action."

We have a person with what I believe to be a Chinese name committing suicide Tuesday morning.

We have a Chinese national arrested for a rape he allegedly committed Tuesday night.

We have a description of the rape that does not add up.

We have US Officials raising concerns about Chinese computer activities, and I believe that was in the news the same day.

I'm not going down the road of conspiracy theories here, only stating that an awful lot of things seemed to happen that Tuesday, and it is interesting, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

No other media outlet did I am sure out of respect for the family. Maybe its a sign you are an outlier if you are the only one.
I imagine we'll soon be seeing the names of rape victims here.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh Ed - get back on your meds!

Larry Kelley said...

Actually (notice how often I start a sentence with the word in response to Cowardly Anon Nitwits), I'm the one who broke the gang rape incident at UMass four months ago, and the rest of the media soon swarmed.

And I did not use her name.

Anonymous said...

You should stop printing the name of suicide victims. Show the same respect.

Larry Kelley said...

Maybe they should show respect to their friends and family by not committing suicide.

Anonymous said...

Suicide is a result of mental illness. Your comment Larry is akin to telling the family of someone who has died of cancer that perhaps they should have shown respect for the family by not dying.
Your comment is probably the most ignorant thing you have ever said on this blog. I feel sorry for the young mans family and I feel sorry for you.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I think the majority of suicide is caused by depression, which we all face at one time or another in life.

And the vast majority of us get through it.

Anonymous said...

Uh Larry - Depression is a mental illness.

Larry Kelley said...

Dealing with Cowardly Anon Nitwits like you is depressing.

But I manage ...

Tom McBride said...

Larry, you said "Maybe they should show respect to their friends and family by not committing suicide.", it's very true that a family is devastated by suicide, and sometimes angry, but if this is he only tact you take at preventing it and don't show compassion toward the person, you won't help them.

Anonymous said...

you are the worst Troll I've ever seen larry.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Trolls are, by nature, anonymous (sort of like you).

Dr. Ed said...

Suicide is a result of mental illness. Your comment Larry is akin to telling the family of someone who has died of cancer that perhaps they should have shown respect for the family by not dying.

BULLS**T!!!!

I personally prevented SEVEN (7) suicides on that campus, paying a high price to my academic career on two occasions, with one of those being an even higher price to my personal reputation, but I did what was "right" and I stopped it.

So maybe I might happen to know just a little bit about this???

Mental illness had nothing to do with any of this -- these were people who had been pushed way too far with no one to hang onto. I was the last straw they grabbed as they were going under, and I acted -- decisively. Larry, you both know who I am and may remember how I was on September 10th -- now imagine what I would be like if I thought that human life was on the line and I was trying to prevent a tragedy....

I don't want to hear about suicide being compared to cancer -- suicide is a choice -- a choice that the WEAK make, the "cowards way out" and there is a really big difference between that and loosing a valiant battle with cancer!

My dad died of cancer. He fought it with every bit of will in his being, and he endured a lot. He tried as hard as he could and still didn't make it, to compare that to a coward unwilling to endure hardship is insulting. I argue that the people we ought to commend are those confronted with stuff that causes others to commit suicide (e.g. Pheobee Prince) but who don't do it.

As to the Voodoo Science -- yes, some people are Depressed -- and some people are poor. Some poor people steal and commit crimes because of their poverty, and some have the willpower and discipline not to do so. Some depressed folk commit suicide, and some have the willpower and discipline not to do so. It's the same thing.

And I consider anyone who committed suicide to be a coward, and I have no problem saying that.

Dr. Ed said...

One other thing -- there is a case to be made for printing the names of rape victims.

The public assumption has long been that the victim "asked for it", that she is of promiscuous character, was dressed like a slut, and essentially that it is her fault that she was raped.

The reality is that this often is not the case -- women who dress modestly, who exercise reasonable precautions (e.g not getting so drunk you pass out on a frat room floor while wearing a micro-mini skirt without underwear), women who are upstanding members of the community and known as such are often raped.

If the name of such a victim was printed, people who both knew her and her character would viscerally react to anything the perp said in his own defense and demand harsh punishment. She would be accepted and supported as the victim of a violent crime -- which is what she is.

I am going to catch a lot of flack for this, but I am not so sure it is a good idea that we don't publish the victims names. After all, if this should remain a secret, then why does the recovery therapy involve forcing her to tell various men that she was raped? (Oh, yes, that's a lovely conversation when a woman springs it on you, and it is yet one more reason why I don't like psychologists -- I can tell that this is the absolute last thing the woman wishes to be discussing with me....)

There is a bigger difference though -- a suicide victim is DEAD and doesn't have to go on. It is like a woman who was both raped and murdered, her name often will be printed -- because it's not going to harm her anymore than she already has been harmed.

And when people want to cover up a suicide, I ask is it really because of the victim and family, or is it because you didn't prevent it and don't want folks asking questions about you....

Anonymous said...

Well there is hope after all. Some cancers are hereditary. Thanks for the ray of sunshine Dr. Ed.

Anonymous said...

Ed is always such a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

Dr. Ed said...

Well in Canada, which does not have a First Amendment, they take a quite different approach. Not only is neither the victim's nor the defendant's name allowed to be printed in the newspapers, but newspapers (and electronic media) are often prohibited from printing anything about the trial as well.

This is often quite controversial as it precludes the victim from complaining when the perp pleads down to a much lesser offense, or even telling people what happened to her and who did it.

The First Amendment notwithstanding, similar rules often apply to juvenile cases and there was a recent national issue involving a woman facing possible jail time for publicly stating that she had been raped and naming her attacker.

The balance between the privacy of those involved (and the accused legally is innocent until convicted, and may well be innocent in reality -- anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse Team or the Kennedy cousin in Palm Beach? -- and if named as a rapist, will never be able to recover his good name.

It is media policy - not law - not to name victims and as such, I am not so sure that the "absence of malice" standard would stand in the case of a named but innocent but accused man.

And as to reporting suicides, there was a time when the media would not report that alcohol was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident out of sympathy to the person's family. This ended in the '80s when people concluded instead that maybe we should mention that alcohol was involved because it might serve to emphasize the relationship between drunk driving and fatal MVAs.

And now that we all know of the Hydrogen Sulfide means of death, what we otherwise would dismiss as a bizarre accumulation of household chemicals is now a tripwire that we know we have to take seriously because we know what can be done with them.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed notice any abnormal growths lately? Maybe some unexplained pain perhaps? One can only hope,you know?

Dr. Ed said...

Dr. Ed notice any abnormal growths lately? Maybe some unexplained pain perhaps?

In the past seven years, two members of my family have died of cancer. And you are an A**hole....

Anonymous said...

Being a little thin-skinned are we, Ed? You can dish it out but it's not so nice when it comes back at ya - is it? You moron!

Anonymous said...

Your such a scumbag Larry.

Bill Dunn said...

There are many incorrect and uneducated comments posted here. Chronic depression can be diagnosed as a mental illness. Depression and or mental illness are usually factors in suicides. Respect for others is not at all a factor in commiting suicide. Depression, helplessness and hopelessness are all factors. A popular addage is that committing suicide is solving a short term problem with a long term solution. If you are going to comment in any forum about suicide, I would urge you to educate yourself before doing so. You can get educated at SAMSHSA.gov (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)Concern for others is way down on the list of things that people think about when they attempt suicide. @ Dr. Ed- claiming to be as intelligent and educated as you always do, I would expect much more from you. You need as much education on the subject as anyone. Unless you have real world experience, knowledge, training or education on suicide, please don't comment until you do. It's rude and disrespectful to the surviving friends and family of people that have attempted or succeded at suicide. Thank you.