Yesterday, a young man jumped off a four-story parking garage and died on impact when he hit the sidewalk below. He was in his early twenties.
I had seen a news report which began cryptically about a suspicious man in the garage downtown. And then later, a body was found outside of the garage. A name was released, then the street where he lived, an affluent side of town. He was a couple of years behind my youngest so I didn’t know him or his family but I suspect my youngest probably did or knows someone who knew him.
Later last night, at a gathering at church, one of our friends told us her daughter knew the young man and had talked with him last week. She was upset because she wondered if she had missed something in their conversation. A clue. A sign that her friend was going to commit suicide jumping off the top of a four-story parking garage.
I have written about suicide numerous times on this blog. I have lost several people over the years to what I can only describe as the horrible disease of mental illness. I have even discussed my own struggles ten years ago with depression and my thankfully fleeting thoughts of suicide as well. But this kid, this kid that I didn’t personally know kept me up last night.
The reason I couldn’t sleep wasn’t so much that he committed suicide but how he did it. Now, I know that is going to sound very weird to some of you that I was seemingly more concerned about the manner in which he killed himself rather than his death itself. No, I mourn his passing. I grieve for his family as a father and as a human being. My, for lack of a better word, interest in the way he went about it is speaking as someone who has contemplated suicide himself.
When I had those, as I described, thankfully fleeting thoughts the “goal” was quick, painless, no room for error or change of heart. I ran through several scenarios in my mind which included who and how I would be found. In the end I decided what I thought I was gaining or accomplishing didn’t even remotely equal to what I would be losing or hurting. Ten years later I realize, everyday, what a selfish act it would have been. I also realize how it would have destroyed my family.
But this young man stood on a wall four stories off the ground and jumped. There was no guarantee that it would kill him, a high probability, but no guarantee. I imagined last night the loneliness he must have felt as the cold April wind attempted to blow him back on to the parking deck. He must have hesitated, had second thoughts. A swirl of moments had to be rushing through his brain, moments that included faces of family and friends of good times and bad. What was it about those moments that he couldn’t see? What was it about his future that brought him to the top of this parking deck, standing on the wall looking out at a beautiful vista of mountains in the background on this cloudy and cold April day, and jump? What?
As I have done in the past I will beg, I will implore anyone that reads this to ask for help if you are depressed. I know, first hand, that life is worth living and yes there will be good days and bad, up days and down, it’s called living. There are so many adventures in front of each of us. Even the dark days are moments spent here with people who care and love us. People that want to hug us and hear our voice. Life is already short. I can think of no reason to make it shorter.