La Presse in the metro

Yesterday as I left my apartment to go to work, I was surprised when my paper wasn’t there to greet me. Instead, there was a copy of La Presse in its place. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a paper once in a while (it’s not like I pay for it, and I can just grab another one at work), and since my apartment is the only one of 11 units in the coop that gets any sort of newspaper subscription, I’m guessing it was just the delivery person throwing out the wrong paper.

The cover certainly piqued my interest (though I was aware of its contents having read a Montreal City Weblog item earlier that day): a special report on life in the metro.

Saturday’s stories include discussions with the various people you see in the hallways: buskers, shopkeepers, cleaners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, old people, and some of the less common sights like monks and blind people figuring out station layouts. There’s also a multimedia component online that includes some audio slideshows of interviews with other people.

Jean-Christophe Laurence also has a peek into the shift of a metro changeur, who says the most annoying thing about working there is having to be confined in a box and asking permission whenever you want to leave it.

But more interestingly, there are articles from Katia Gagnon on the workers who perform maintenance on the tracks between 2am and 5am when no trains are circulating and the power to the rails is cut, as well as those who monitor the tracks while the trains are running.

It reminds me of a piece that Alex Dobrota did for the Gazette three years ago in which he spent the night with maintenance workers.

Intervention des ambulanciers

Today, La Presse continues on a sadder note, talking about suicide in the metro. Hugo Meunier discusses the statistics, the most interesting of which is that 2/3 of people who throw themselves in front of metro trains survive, though they’re left with serious injuries and disabilities. He reports on a specific incident as an example (an article with a staggering seven anonymous sources, perhaps demonstrating how little people want to talk about it) and asks whether the STM, police and media’s policies of pretending suicides don’t happen is actually helpful at preventing copycats.

I’ve never actually witnessed a metro suicide (though I’ve seen the cleanup), so I can only imagine how disturbing it can be.

I can’t help but think that the statistic that shows you’re more likely to be seriously hurt than die attempting suicide in the metro would make a lot of people think twice about using that method to end their lives. Of course, then they’d just choose a method that wasn’t so public and we’d never know.

3 thoughts on “La Presse in the metro

  1. plam

    I’ve read that there have been studies where a means of suicide was taken away (in Montreal, for instance, a case would be installation of a jump barrier on the Jacques-Cartier). It turns out that people don’t actually choose another method. Instead the suicide rate goes down. It seems like people go and try to jump, fail, and go home and don’t kill themselves after all. Similarly, in reading about survivors from bridge jumps, apparently they regret jumping very soon afterwards.

  2. Jean Naimard

    Interestingly, Toronto will discuss subway suicides without any problems, to the point of being quite gross about it. When we visited the Toronto subway control center some 20 years ago, the operations boss was quite graphic and nonchalant about it.

    He said at one point that “the best thing is when the head is separated from most of the body”, because “that way, we can clean the place out and resume service right away without having to wait for the coroner to declare the person dead”…

    Myself, I had feared seeing a suicide in the Métro for a long time. One day, I just missed a train at Champ-de-Mars, only to hear minutes later that the service was interrupted. Since I transferred at Berri (I was too lazy to walk all the way there), I decided to walk there only to find the train I missed half into the station, and workers bringing a stretcher in front of it. I was really surprised to find out that it did not do me anything at all that someone was there, crushed under the train (I must say I did not see him jump, not did I hang around to see the aftermath) and just went to take my train to Longueuil like I did every time.

  3. x-US

    I worked for Urgences Sante back in the day (*cough*25*cough* years ago). Never did a Metro call, but conventional wisdom was that there was about 1/day somewhere on the system.


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