Record of No Fatalities Senselessly Came to an End for the Bullet Train in Japan
N ot having recorded the death of a single person since its operation launched greater than 50 years ago, the record of no fatalities senselessly came to an end for the bullet train in Japan earlier this week when a man — who was 71 years of age — committed suicide by setting himself on fire aboard a bullet train, according to this article written by Jonathan Soble of The New York Times.
A fellow female passenger — 52 years of age — was also killed; while greater than 20 other people were injured. Two of those 20 people suffered from serious injuries.
The man reportedly poured a flammable fluid all over himself and parts of the interior of the high-speed train; and then igniting the liquid with a cigarette lighter at the front of the train just outside the compartment of the driver of the train.
It is a shame that such a senseless and selfish act had to ruin its spotless record of no fatalities. More importantly, it is even more of a shame that someone should feel the need to commit suicide at all. No matter how bad life may seem, there is usually someone else who is experiencing worse. One person who comes to mind is Michelle Knight, who suffered approximately eleven years of repeated unimaginable torture, rape, brutality and abuse by Ariel Castro at his home in Cleveland — and her life was already rather bleak before that nightmare experience even began. Despite all of that, she fought to survive and eventually thrive — not wanting to be remembered as a victim; but rather as a survivor.
Then again, there were reports of several passengers who claimed that the man had “appeared disoriented and wandered up and down the aisle of the lead car” before he abruptly committed his act of self-immoliation near the resort city of Odawara, which is approximately 50 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Unfortunately, suicides are not unfamiliar to the train system in Japan — mostly by people who have thrown themselves into the paths of the trains. “There have also been deaths by natural causes, like heart attacks, and at least one murder: In 1988, a man was stabbed to death in what appeared to be a robbery on a Shinkansen train to Nagoya from Tokyo.”
I have been a passenger on a Shinkansen train years ago when I was in Japan; and it was an amazing experience being whisked away at speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour. Despite those high speeds, it is one of the safest modes of transportation in the world; and if you have never ridden on one as a passenger, I encourage you to take the opportunity to do so if you find yourself in Japan.