Train drivers forgotten about in suicides
An ex-train driver is calling attention to the lack of empathy given to conductors in train accidents. Jacques' first thought was "not another conducted to the dogs", when two men committed suicide on Sunday by jumping in front of an oncoming train at Rotterdam-Zuid station, AD reports. The 60-year old, who is only giving his first name, knows that track of rails well, and has ridden it thousands of times. "A place where many continuing trains ride with considerable speed. This makes it an 'attractive' place for people who want to commit suicide" Jacques tells the AD. When Jacques first became a train driver, it was a way to make his daily bread. But he had no idea that 20 years later, his job would leave him with post-traumatic stress syndrome. "The first time I experienced a suicide on the track it was a woman who jumped in front of a passing train. It couldn't stop, so I had to go look." The woman was still alive. "She grabbed my shoe...and that hand...I still see her hand in front of me at night."
Jacques received zero supervision from his employer. "I just drove on with the train and again the next day." A few years later he experienced it himself how a woman on the station at Delft stepped off a bench, climbed onto the tracks and waited there with arms spread out. "I still hear the grinding of the grit under the care workers' feet. And still worse, the sound of the silence after the hit." After this happened, Jacques had to take his train to Haarlem to get it washed. Afterwards, he went home on the train, as passenger this time, and went to work the next day. "Suicides are registered with the police, but not by the NS. You talked about it in the coffee room with each other, but not further." According to NS spokesperson Eric Trinthamer support of train drivers and conductors has been arranged better, "these are now the ones that go look and cover the body with a sheet", he says. "Employees are immediately taken off the train and receive elaborate psychological support from our support bureau. Also if an incident only causes problems years later." This is just what happened to Jacques, he quit his job after the suicide of a boy "who was the same age as my stillborn son would have been at the time." Jacques, from Vlaardingen, started hyperventilating and got panic attacks and didn't dare to board the train anymore. He got another job at the NS, but landed in a psychiatric facility years later, he had daily treatments for a year. "That's how broken I was inside." It's going better now. "Time doesn't heal wounds, but it does make it easier. I still have nightmares, though." Jacques hopes that the driver and conductor who were present at the double suicide in Rotterdam won't end up in the psychological misery as he did. "In the end I got divorced. And I also had a big impact on my daughter when I suddenly sat bleary-eyed on the couch." "I recently spoke to parents whose schizophrenic son jumped in front of a train. The first thing the mother asked when she heard the news, was how the train driver was doing. That did me good. Everyone wants to know how many times train drivers experience people jumping in front of trains. But nobody ever asks them if they're okay."