THE SUICIDES of two men connected to the Sago mine disaster bring the death toll connected to the Jan. 2 explosion, directly or indirectly, to 14. They also remind West Virginia of the lingering suffering of mine employees and their families.Mine dispatcher William Chisolm, 47, of Belington died Aug. 29. Fireboss John Nelson Boni, 63, of Volga, died Sept. 23.
Chisolm was the dispatcher on duty on the morning of the explosion. Five days earlier, Boni had discovered a methane buildup in the area where the explosion later occurred, but mine operators determined that the buildup was not then a threat.To what extent the Sago disaster was a factor in the menís despair may never be known, but the emotional suffering of people who survive disasters when others perish is well documented. Even people who participate in happy outcomes, such as the 2002 rescue of nine miners at Quecreek in Pennsylvania, can suffer deadly mental health problems later.The loss of these men will leave a terrible hole in their families. Across the state, news of their deaths gave pause to sympathetic readers, who keep the surviving families in their thoughts.