LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Suicide By Train Should Derail Detox Construction At 362 Middlesex Ave

Dear Editor,

The location of the proposed detox center in North Wilmington is not conducive to alcohol and drug detoxification and recovery. Middlesex Ave is very busy. Traffic noise is constant. Also, the railroad sounds generated by the commuter rail is part of the audio ambiance at that location. People undergoing alcohol withdrawal know if they walk diagonally across the street they can purchase beer, wine or spirits. Some may choose to visit the VFW bar if they can. The temptation would be continuous.

Recently, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Wilmington was doing some online research and discovered an alarming article in the August 7th edition of the Washington Post. The article was authored by Ashley Halsey III. It is titled, “Suicide by train” is in decline, but deaths of people who trespassed on railroad tracks increased in 2017.”The piece features statistics collected by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Data excerpted from the article includes:

  • More than 300 times last year, people walked onto railroad tracks to intentionally put themselves in the path of a train — and in 266 cases they successfully committed suicide.
  • A report conducted for the 2007-2010 period found that: All of those who died had abused alcohol or drugs, and all but two suffered from mental illness.
  • The 2007-2010 report also noted: At the time they stepped in front of a train, half had consumed alcohol or illegal or prescription drugs. Additionally, More than half suffered from a chronic physical illness that often caused pain.
  • “Choosing a violent method, such as suicide by rail, has been associated with substance abuse or dependence and psychotic disorders,” said another FRA report published four years ago. “The individuals included in this report were more likely to have a mental disorder (96 percent) or a drinking (62 percent) or substance abuse (58 percent) problem than individuals who chose other suicide methods.”

This article provides the most compelling evidence that the town should not permit the construction of a detox facility at this location. If the construction is ”Green-lighted,” there may be considerable legal exposure if a patient hearing the trains all day and night gets the idea to end his/her withdrawal torment using “Suicide by train.” Locating a detox facility at 362 Middlesex is an avoidable recipe for disaster.

Last December 16, the citizens of Wilmington banded together to overwhelmingly pass Article-II. The article was drafted by Selectman Michael McCoy. The bylaw opened-up large tracts of industrially zoned land for use by medical facilities to include detox centers. These parcels are quiet, remote and provide a supportive environment for detoxification, rehabilitation and recovery.

Sincerely,

Gerry Bruno

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