Two Suicides in Two Days

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Preface:

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

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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.

Two blue dots mark the sites of the suicides

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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.

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7 Responses to Two Suicides in Two Days

  1. raincoaster September 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    No, it’s actually worse than that.

    Unfortunately, the person I heard screaming was the cousin of the victim. Word on the street is that this wasn’t a suicide at all, but a case of a young woman who was beaten and raped, then thrown out the window. I gather they’re still looking for the perpetrator; they were here today, interviewing everyone who heard anything.

    And this morning around 5am two suburban girls beat and stabbed an old man in a doorway a block east of my office. He technically died en route to the hospital, but the paramedics revived him. If he does die, they’ll be charged with murder. They’re both in custody.

    • Zoe September 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

      Thank you for clarifying. I am speechless.

    • Justin September 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

      I’d be very careful when relaying info that is going around on the street. I’ve found that it’s like a game of telephone down here in the DTES and the truth is usually stretched pretty thin after going through 3-4 people.

      • Zoe September 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

        Thank you for raising a very good point.

        I have thought about this post and considered deleting it. The post was based on first hand accounts of events that I thought were suicides; however, it turned out that the second death may have occurred under other circumstances.

        The first death was confirmed a suicide. The cause of the second death remains unknown to me. There is no news of this event and so, I cannot be certain of what transpired in fact.

        In the end, I have decided to keep this post but to add a preface to the main body. It may serve useful in bringing attention to the number of deaths occurring in the DTES.

  2. clb September 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    I live and work in gastown and witnessed the first suicide on alexander street. I can’t find anything online about it, in the news or otherwise. It seemed to me to be an man in his 30-40’s perhaps mentally ill or depressed, his mother was there at the time he jumped.The very next day i was going to my studio through the back entrance and it was roped off because of the woman being pushed from the window, allegedly. I did find an article on that. I did not actually see the second incident, if I had been a few hours earlier I would have. I thought this article was well-written and I’m glad they published it.
    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Women+being+pushed+their+deaths+drug+dealers+Downtown+Eastside+advocates/3572655/story.html

  3. batman October 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    The man who commited suicide was a great, fun and intelligent man. He came from a very close, loving family and had many close friends who were good people. He had a great job in computers/technology and had recently bought the condo in the building that he jumped from. He had been diagnosed with a schizophrenic type disease about a year ago, was on medication for it and most friends and family thought he was doing great, however he had stoppped taking his medication shortly before his suicide. Born on Vancouver island and was in his early thirties. I just wrote this in the hope that it may answer some questions about it. The system did not fail him and I believe that this is evidence that the good die young and not everyone is going to make it to the end. RIP

  4. Chris November 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    On suicide in general, I’ve seen 2 jumpers myself, not pretty, the first died instantly, impacting the ground some 40 feet from me and was instantly obliterated into what at the time I though was a dropped pumpkin. The second lived for 20 minutes, slowly ebbing away in his pretzeled form, the response team unable to do much for him.

    Of course suicide is very hard on friends and family, especially during the holiday seasons, but probably worst of all, when people who attempt suicide in such manners live. This often compounds the devastation exponentially, for loved ones and said victim of internal conflict.

    To date I have had to deal with only one passing of a young friend who took his own life. Over 20 years ago that was and tears still well up when I think about him, which is all to often.

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