Thursday, 23 October 2008

Death Rides an Iron Horse: suicide by train in the Credit Crunch

Here are some figures you won't have seen in the national press. One week. Three journeys. Four suicides.

Last week my associate Charles Shaar Murray traveled to Oxford to lay some cool slide guitar on a friend's album. Both journeys out and back to London were delayed by a fatality on the line, one of them on the Tube leg of the trip. My Bedford train from St Pancras the next day was delayed by a fatality on the line. Another friend, in town for the day, was late due to ... a fatality on the line!

If we had four deaths in three journeys (one of them a return), what sort of suicide pattern must be emerging across London and the UK, let alone all the other countries hit by the recession?

The money-making jamboree of the past decade made unimaginable fortunes for bankers until the Credit Crunch and sub-prime market failure ended their bonanza but they're not the ones picking up the bill. The depression in the 1920s may have had bankers leaping off skyscraper ledges but no such luck this time around. All gilt, no guilt, they've been insulated from the fallout — their fallout — by governments too scared to take meaningful action except chuck our money at them (coins sharpened to a razor's edge are acceptable, thank you, but not billions from public funds, if you please), or which are so heavily compromised themselves that they risk being squished in the bail-out feeding frenzy.

Despite government bluster that bloated bankers responsible for the bad debts and subsequent economic collapse receive no bonuses, Lloyds TSB, having just shared in the £37 billion rescue package due to having nothing but moths in their coffers, now insist that their executives get their bonuses because "they deserve it". I do wish the culprits would get their just desserts in this instance but the deity in charge of cosmic justice must be washing her hair. It's now workers without millions to cushion them who face eviction, destitution, rising bills, failing services, relationship breakdown and all-round general purpose hardship. Most of us have few savings. British debt is running at £1.69 for every pound made so many people have no slack to take them through the next nightmare period.

The train suicides are the canaries down the mine, the frontline, the first over the top of the trenches. The rest of us can only watch and shudder knowing that soon It Could Be You stepping off the planet. Better buy that Lottery ticket quick while you can afford it coz it's the best chance most of us have to extricate ourselves from Other People's mess. Some hope!

Poor train drivers. I hope they're getting counselling coz there's gonna be a lot more of this going on for the foreseeable.


harpymarx said...

My train was late last wk due to a fatality on the line between the South East and London.

Undoubtedly mental health issues will increase along with suicide. The various knock-on effects from this credit crunch are immeasurable.

Plus the attacks on welfare such as making it ever so harder to claim, more conditionality and so on. This will have a severe impact esp. as the projection for the no. of unemployed will be 2 mill....

But hey, NL, just don't give a sh*t... as long as the banking system has been saved the rest of us can go to the wall.

Mrs. M. said...

This sounds like a real life version of "Suicide Club". Very sad.

D.J.P. O'Kane said...

Looks like it's going to be the same in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. I was on the Dublin-Westport train last week when it was delayed by someone parking their car on the line, in what we were told at the time was a suicide attempt.

And Dessie O'Hare's brother has killed himself, as his construction business was going down the tubes.

And only last night there was a piece on the telly about people struggling to pay their mortgages, which included a lot of talk of people contemplating suicide. . .

Madam Miaow said...

These are the real lives being wrecked by other people's greed. Capitalism is ruthless and, as we can all see in glorious glowing technicolour, is an inefficient, cruel method of social organisation.

There must be better ways to run the planet than to suck out all the wealth and screw anyone left behind.

So London and Ireland are starting an upswing in suicides. Anything similar occurring in New York, Mrs M?

Mrs. M. said...

Not that I have heard of. I actually get the Canadian news channel and their stories are unbelievable because of the purity and complete lack of violence in American news. It's all about local basketball teams and blood drives-stark contrasts in comparison.
Also, completely off topic but I have found something I think you would love. It's this site called swaptree ( -you can swap books or music with other people. I had avoided it for a while because I knew I would want to gobble up all the books, especially considering I dont re-read many of the ones I have, but I finally gave in. It's like the Holy Grail only holier.