Brandon Weiner and Mary Ann Ortega, both 29, were the fourth and fifth people to be hit by trains in Florida this week.
The young couple recently found themselves homeless after falling on hard times. They appear to have decided to end their struggles together.
Therefore, after a tight embrace, the pair laid down together across the train tracks in Delray Beach. By the time the train conductor spotted them, it was too little, too late.Don O’Brien/Flickr
Two weeks prior to their attempted suicide, Weiner was arrested for heroin possession. The pair had been approached by a police officer who noticed them hovering by a dumpster. Weiner claimed ownership of heroin baggies found near the couple.
Ortega was not arrested in this instance; however, she too had a history with the law. She arrested for and pleaded guilty to unlawfully boarding a train in 2010.
Due to the recent influx of attempted suicides by train this past week, police and Tri-Rail are considering precautionary measures to take to avoid future casualties.
Tri-Rail officials are considering utilizing drones to hover over high-profile tracks, so that if someone is caught in the train’s path, the drones would alert both police and the train service. Bonnie Arnold, a spokesperson from Tri-Rail said:
“We’re looking at everything. Some people say fence in the whole [train] corridor. We can’t do that — to trap somebody in the corridor, we don’t want to do that.”
However, officials are looking to install signs along the tracks, in particular trouble spots encouraging people to call 211 — a suicide prevention line.
The Sun Sentinel reports on other recent cases of alleged attempted suicide by train:
- A man was hit by a freight train on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale. His injuries were fatal, and the police linked the case to suicide.
- In Boca Raton on Monday, a woman was hit by a Brightline train. Though full details haven’t been released, police say the case is being investigated as suicide.
- Also on Monday, in Fort Lauderdale, a woman was struck by a Tri-Rail train near Sunrise Boulevard.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 38,000 American lives each year. Noticing the warning signs is a crucial step in preventing a suicide. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) provides the following warning signs to look out for:
Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
Talking about being a burden to others.
Sleeping too little or too much.
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
If you are concerned about someone else committing suicide, use any of the warning signs to begin a non-confrontational, non-judgmental dialogue. Aid them in seeking outside help.
If they seem to be in immediate danger, call 911.
Douglas Jacobs, a suicide expert and medical director at Screen for Mental Health Inc., weighed in on the recent influx of death by train suicide attempts. While people believe a train would lead to an immediate death, he told the Sun Sentinel:
“It’s important to note here that there’s no foolproof way to know you’re not going to suffer. And it doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to die. You could be left disabled, disfigured and in chronic pain.”
Such is the case for Weiner and Ortega, where the impact wasn’t forceful enough to end their lives. Both are critically injured and were hospitalized until Thursday.
Recently, Ortega worked at a dog-grooming business where she was described as “a bright, loving, patient person.”
An agency official from suicide help line 211, Sharon L’Herrou, noted:
“The biggest thing for us is that we want to get it out there that 211 is there for people who are struggling. We want people to reach out when they’re struggling and be reminded that they are loved and people care about them, because when you’re struggling, you forget that.”
In addition, help is available with the following crisis counselors:
If someone is struggling with helpless thoughts, SAVE writes, people should remember that “[h]elp is available, that what [you] are experiencing is treatable, and that suicide feelings are temporary. Life can get better.”