The first death was confirmed a suicide. The cause of the second death may have occurred under other tragic circumstances, but the facts remain unknown. Read this post as a reflection of my concern about the frequency of deaths in the DTES.
Updated: September 20, 2010
Suicide is a grim, difficult subject. It is a depressing and sensational topic that I would prefer to avoid but cannot. Two people jumped to their deaths in two days, one person on Tuesday morning and the other, yesterday evening. Both deaths took place within a mile of where I live. There is no news about these two people because news does not report on suicides.
I am no expert in demographics nor on social services but two suicides in two days indicate to me that there is something wrong, or something has gone wrong in the city. I worry because no news coverage means the public does not know that people are killing themselves and consequently, there is nobody to ask why and so, nothing changes.
Before I continue, here is the little I do know about the two suicides, all of which was gathered from Twitter:
1. I blogged about the death on Tuesday morning: Yikes! Was that really a dead body on Alexander Street?
2. The death that took place yesterday was first tweeted about by @raincoaster at around 6pm. Below are three of the several tweets by @raincoaster:
— There’s someone at the Roosevelt hotel down the lane threatening to jump. He seems very drunk or very high. I can hear him yelling from here
— Someone is crying “That’s my fucking cousin”. I think the jumper must have jumped.
— They won’t let the guy look at his cousin’s body
The media does not cover suicides to prevent copycat attempts. I agree with this to an extent but exceptions should be made. There are some suicides that need to be investigated and discussed, especially if there is a trend that points to a need for change. I know nothing about the two people who ended their lives or why, and with no news, I can only speculate on what happened.
Is there is a correlation of the rise in the number of suicides in the DTES to discontinued or needed services? Did these two people need mental health services? Did they need housing or drug rehabilitation? Am I asking the right questions? I don’t know.
All I can do for now is to put this on record for the public: two people killed themselves in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside within a day of each other.
Update: I’m adding to this post at around 6:45pm.
It turns out that yesterday’s death was actually something far worse than a suicide. Please read the comment below by @raincoaster.
In light of this new information, rather than rewrite this post, I will restate my main point: the frequency of lives ending prematurely in the DTES is a sign that change is needed, and if deaths go unnoticed, no change will happen.