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The 1.28 Million Dollar Suicide

06 Oct

Just as in the movie “Money Never Sleeps” this story of economic disturbance and subsequent death over the recent Wall Street crisis seems to have played itself out in Chino, California.  In the film an older, seasoned  stock trader not only loses his most precious asset, his company, he also loses his self-worth during the market crash in 2008.  As he meets in a boardroom filled with fellow suits, he pleads with these various heads of financial institutions for a bailout.  But he is silenced by one particularly handsome CEO who smells the blood and wants to rub it in by dissolving the flailing company for a couple dollars a share.  Shortly after, humiliated and heartbroken, the older businessman buys a paper and finishes a small snack in a subway station, then pushes his way across the crowded platform and steps in front of a  fast moving train.  The image is supposed to be dramatic.  It is supposed to draw gasps in the theater.  But there are none, not in the one I’m seated in.  Here in the Inland Empire that actor’s  despondency is actually all too real.

In Chino where I used to live, Timothy L. “Lenny” Woods, the former owner of a longstanding car dealership, was found dead one morning by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the Ford dealership that he’d run for nearly thirty years.   Buried in the back of the local paper, it states that his dealership had once been successful earning over a billion dollars in tax revenue for the city.  Finding that man’s body at his former place of business was obviously no accident.

The economic slowdown has sharply plowed its way through the car industry.  President Obama’s first stimulus package may have initially pumped in massive amounts of money to the top executives at these car companies but it did little to regenerate the kind of cash flow needed to reach the ventricles, the small dealership owners where  jobs  were really on the line.  People were no longer buying, especially not anything American, and Cash for Clunkers, as well-meaning and fleeting as it may have been, didn’t exactly make up the difference.  Not much more than a year ago Woods asked the City of Chino for an increased share of sales tax revenue and a loan for 1.28 million.  He was denied both.  As a consequence, his business shut down in April.  Woods had been selling off his assets ever since.

The rate of suicide among middle-aged men has abruptly risen in the past few years.  Unemployment and financial ruin top divorce or illness as the reasons why so many of them who are often educated and enterprising, would rather die than start over.  Typically the means of killing themselves is by gunshot or an overdose of prescription drugs.  Before he was a once prosperous businessman, Timothy L. “Lenny” Woods was a husband.  He was a father and grandfather.   May his family be confident in knowing that a community mourns him.  As for the City of Chino, may they wonder whether they have blood on their hands for their part in cutting off financial aid to what had in fact been a man’s very livelihood.

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  1. Guy

    October 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    This is a disturbing but all too common tragedy. Thank you for bringing his story to light.

     
    • Terese W.

      October 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      From what you’ve written, it sounds like this man deserved better.

       
  2. Michelle

    October 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Being the kind that rarely reads the newspapers I did not know this suicide happened. I was already saddened to see the business close because it had been there for such a long time. It saddens me further to see that the city did not help. Though I love Chino, there are certainly things the City and School District are doing wrong — aren’t they supposed to keep the community strong, not tear it down?

     
    • Southern Reader

      January 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      The same incident occurred in the vacation destination of the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. The owner of an automobile dealership ended his life with a bullet in the office one late night. The employees found him the next morning. The lot where the cars once showed off their styles has been obviously empty for many months.I am concerned that this action is a common one for many industries in the US since its economic decline.