On Monday morning, September 1, 2014, the car that was to take us to Atatürk Airport for a flight to Tbilisi for the Caucasian Mathematics Conference was late. The dispatcher said there had been a breakdown, but he was sending another car. To wait for this was frustrating; but the new car did come, and we made it to the airport in plenty of time. Indeed, our driver said the roads would be clear (and they were), because a lot of traffic had been tied up on the Bosphorus Bridge. This had been closed, because of a threatened suicide.

After some hours, the suicide actually happened: so our driver told us, and so his radio reported. Thus a report of the incident in the Hürriyet Daily News would appear to be correct. I cannot vouch for the authority of the accompanying photo, which Hürriyet does not source.

Photo from Hürriyet Daily News; original source unknown

International Business Times sources its story to Hürriyet, but its photo to Twitter. In any case, my purpose is not to investigate the accuracy of news media, but to recall my thoughts on the way to the airport; they have been sadly exemplified since then by the deaths of ten workers in our neighborhood.

To prevent a man from taking his own life, the authorities closed one of the two bridges joining Europe to Asia. The closure lasted for hours, but was futile. The man jumped and died. Meanwhile, workplace safety in Turkey is a disgrace. Three hundred miners die in Soma in Manisa province on the Aegean, and the Prime Minister (now President) says, in effect, shit happens.

During the last week of August, from our Istanbul balcony, I had watched men remove the tiles from the roof of a school that was being demolished.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Four floors from the ground, the men worked without any kind of safety harnesses that I could see. I have watched men here demolish houses by sledgehammer: the walls that they strike are the walls that they are actually balanced on top of. At our neighborhood school though, once the roof tiles were off, the walls were torn down by machine.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The demolition lets us see some greenery now. Apparently the greenery will be screened again though. At least the screening will be done by another school, rather than, say, more high rises like the ones seen rising in the upper left.

I mused on this as we drove to the airport on September 1. It is well understood that injuries and deaths will happen on construction and demolition sites. The authorities show little concern for preventing these; but one guy threatens to jump from a bridge, and the authorities will close the bridge for hours.

I do not mean to suggest that they should just ignore the guy and let him jump; but since he did jump anyway, the authorities might want to reconsider their suicide prevention measures. It appears that sixty-five people jumped from the Bosphorus Bridge between 1986 and 1995. Would a net be justified, as in San Francisco? Or if it is judged to be too expensive, why is closing the bridge unexpectedly for hours not too expensive? If indeed it is not, then let us close some more roads, and permanently!

On September 6, a day before our return to Istanbul, ten workers died on the high-rise construction site in my photo above. Next day, at a protest at the site, the police deployed their usual weapons of tear gas and water cannon.

On April 4, 2020, I noticed that this post had been looked at twice in the previous day (after being visited not at all since June 2017). When I looked at the post itself, the photo on the bridge did not come through. I figured Hürriyet Daily News had taken down the photo and the story, so I recovered these from the Web Archive. Here is the text of the story:

A man committed suicide in the morning hours of Sept. 1 [2014] in Istanbul, jumping into the waters of the Bosphorus Strait from the Bosphorus Bridge. However, the tragedy has been overshadowed by controversy after a police officer was photographed taking a selfie while police teams were trying to talk the man down in the background.

After three hours atop the bridge, the man jumped at 9.35 a.m., and his body was found soon after by naval police, Radyo Trafik reported, citing official sources.

Sadrettin Şaşkın, 35, the victim, was alive when he was pulled out of the strait at the Ortaköy pier under the bridge, but could not be saved despite efforts, according to officials.

This was his third suicide attempt, sources said, adding he was suffering some family problems and a financial bottleneck.

Meanwhile, an administrative investigation has immediately been launched by the Police Department into the officer who took the selfie at the scene of the suicide, daily Hürriyet has reported. The photo also drew a large reaction on social media, as the officer was accused of behaving in an insensitive manner.

As it happens, the link above to the original story does still work, and the photo is still there. Perhaps it did not come through, because the internet is tied up by by all of the people working or amusing themselves at home during the Coronovirus pandemic. In any case, the present post is certainly relevant to the pandemic.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Taksim in Limbo « Polytropy on December 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    […] site. Stages in the demolition of the earlier school can be seen in my article from September, Precautions. I chose that title because not many precautions are taken at worksites, and thus for example ten […]

  2. By Pictures « Polytropy on October 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    […] the summer of 2014, the old school behind our flat was torn down. I wrote then about the unsafe conditions for the demolition team. The new school is going up under similar […]

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