Attempted suicide in the Dutch Parliament

THE HAGUE–The plenary hall of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament was the scene of a dramatic suicide attempt by a visitor on Thursday. A 65-year-old man leapt from the public balcony onto the floor of Parliament below with his necktie fastened to the railing.

The incident happened shortly before noon during the plenary debate with Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus on organised crime in the Netherlands. The man jumped down from the public balcony while Member of the Second Chamber Arno Rutte of the liberal democratic VVD party was speaking from the lectern.

There is no video footage of the jump itself, but a fragment from the live streaming of Parliament showed Rutte stopping mid-sentence, followed by a moment of utter shock before running away from the lectern towards the jumper, shouting “watch out!”

Images taken right after the incident showed President of Parliament Khadija Arib trying to stabilise the head of the man who jumped. Several other Members of Parliament (MPs) came to the man’s aid. One MP, who did not want her name mentioned, explained that she and another colleague kept the man elevated so he would not break his neck. Bystanders reportedly shouted to push him back onto the balcony.

The debate was immediately ceased and the hall was cleared. All plenary meetings for the rest of the day were cancelled. Emergency personnel arrived at the scene very quickly, and the injured man was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was hospitalised with non-fatal injuries. After-care was provided to those who witnessed the incident.

The incident caused a big shock especially among those who were present in the plenary hall. Some were in tears. Most were too shocked to speak.
“It was horrible,” said MP Michiel van Nispen of the Socialist Party (SP), who did not want to say anything further.

MP Rutte said after the incident that he still felt a “bit shaky.” “We all got a good scare, especially the persons who were close by.”

Arib was shaken. “I have to say that the highly commendable action that the different persons in the hall displayed prevented a worse situation.” In a letter to her colleague MPs, Arib spoke of a “ghastly incident.”

Dutch media reported that the man who jumped was a well-known activist from the town of Groenlo who had been demonstrating outside the Second Chamber building for the past weeks against what he called the “criminalising” of cannabis, promoting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The man reportedly runs a store with organic products in Groenlo. Shortly before his deed, the man posted a notice on Facebook. “Forgive me for this deed. I have to do this to wake up the political establishment,” he wrote.

The strict security measures that are in place at the Second Chamber could not prevent the man from jumping because there is no glass wall between the upper public gallery and the plenary hall below. The argument is that having a glass partition would impair the public character of the Parliament meetings.

This was not the first time that someone from the public gallery jumped down into the plenary hall. A 54-year-old activist of British descent did the same in 2005, breaking both his ankles.

Source: The Daily Herald