We sometimes hear about the rash of suicides at Chinese factories where workers are so despondent over the conditions they are forced to endure that they fling themselves off the roofs. According to accounts the management of these neo-sweatshops have strung netting around the buildings to intercept falling workers so they can be returned to their occupational agony. There is much soul searching in America about this sad state of affairs.
On consecutive days this week two unidentified men threw themselves off bridges in downtown Minneapolis, one from the Third Ave. bridge, another from the Washington Ave. bridge (the same span from which celebrated poet John Berryman plunged 54 feet
to his death in 1972). Earlier, in April, another fellow parked his car on the new 35W bridge and dived into the Mississippi, not to be found until a couple of weeks later downriver above the Ford Dam.
This would seem to indicate that life in Minneapolis or maybe even all of Minnesota, is just more than some people can bear. We can't ask these unfortunates what drove them to self-destruction but we can guess. There is a lot of discouragement in the Twin Cities air these days. The local baseball team is the worst in the major leagues. The gangster NFL has managed to extort millions from the local community in exchange for the right to make even more millions staging exhibitions that feature permanent head injuries to ill-educated college drop-outs. The local authorities have accepted some more millions and contributed a similar amount to build a light-rail system between capital St. Paul and sister city Minneapolis that is destroying 11 1/2 miles of businesses and is unlikely to carry a significant number of passengers ever. Unemployment is high, real estate values and sales are low. Houses all over the place are vacant, factories are shuttered. Individually these circumstances are depressing, collectively they have driven some of the more sensitive among us to take their own lives. Isn't it time something is done about this?