|Falling Man by Richard Drew|
In the article, David James Smith investigates the response of, among others, the media, officials, emergency services and, of course, the families of those who leapt to their deaths. Smith encounters resistance – some feel the term 'jump' or 'jumper' is inappropriate as they were 'forced or pushed out by the heat of the flames'. Smith writes, "To be a jumper, many people feel, implies the act of suicide, an act that some perceive as shameful". Officially, all the deaths as a result of 9/11, with the exception of the hijackers were ruled to be homicides, not sucides.
Others, including firefighters, are so traumatised by witnessing the sight and sound of the falling bodies they can barely speak about it. The first firefighter to be killed on 9/11 – Danny Suhr – was, in fact, hit by a falling woman. Some families have taken comfort from the fact that their loved-ones decided to jump, as it meant they had taken some control in an out-of-control situation. One mother saying "They were falling into the arms of God".
Of all the photographs taken of those who fell to their deaths, is one known as 'The Falling Man' taken by photographer Richard Drew (see pic above). It is an incredible photograph, and one which has caused great debate over the identity of the individual and whether it was morally right to publish such a picture. Drew has said he "liked to think of the Falling Man as the photographic equivalent of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, representing all those who had died by jumping or falling".
This was a really interesting feature, on a subject which will always remain complex and highly-emotive. And among the thoughts and feelings provoked as I read about these men and women who fell to their deaths, is how must it feel to have to choose your death? Would I have stayed put to be consumed by fire, or let the building collapse on me? Or would I jump out of the window? Suicide is choosing to turn away from life. These people chose one form of death to escape from another. There is no word for that.