This story is about me, it's about you, it's about your best friend from high school that you didn't know was depressed until it was too late. This story is about a guy named Josh who struggles with suicide, self acceptance, lonliness, and rejection. It is meant to pinpoint how our society wrongfully handles the subject of suicide, and a lot of the scenes come from real life experiences of people who have conquered their struggle with depression, and want to help others do the same. This is not an easy read and it's not meant to be, so if you find yourself struggling please reach out to someone, and stop reading if you find this triggering.
The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255, please don't hesitate to find help if you need it.
HERO COP PREVENTS SUCIDE ATTEMPT
"On February 28th, Deputy Officer McDowell of the River Rock County police department had no idea that he would be saving a life when he got to work that cold, bright morning. He began his day as he had begun many days before: went to work, received his assignments, and left to go on patrol. Three hours into his shift he received a call claiming that there had been a man on the South Ridge Bridge for almost an hour, and now he looked ready to jump. Officer McDowell wasted no time, and arrived at the scene only minutes later to find a young man preparing to hurl himself into the frigid waters below. McDowell attempted to talk the young man down from his precarious ledge, but when it became clear that all attempts to talk him back over would be futile, Officer McDowell risked his own life for that of a stranger. He threw himself over the guardrail onto the narrow railing and held onto the young man, quite literally for dear life. Officer McDowell stayed there until backup arrived and helped transfer the young man to a nearby hospital. At reporting time there was no further information, aside from a brief statement from Officer McDowell. “I don’t expect recognition just for doing my job. I am only grateful that this young mans family won’t have to suffer from the tragedy of suicide.” River Rock County is deeply grateful for the heroism of Officer McDowell, and the other officers like him. The young man from the bridge was unavailable for comment, and the police department chose not to disclose his name at this time. "
Josh snorted and threw his head back into the hospital pillow. It decompressed with a dull sigh and he briefly considered pressing the call button to ask for another one, or six, but thought better of it. The nursing staff didn’t like him. Maybe that was a harsh assessment; he knew that they didn’t think he needed to be here taking up a bed and their valuable time with his petty complaints. He rolled his green-blue eyes, and brushed his hands through his close-cropped brown hair. It wasn’t his idea to have some ‘hero cop’ decide to get his name in the papers with a ‘daring rescue’. The article had gotten it all wrong anyway. The cop had been kind, and convinced Josh not to jump but instead wait until backup arrived to get him help. The cops rough, low voice came back to him, making him wince and close his eyes against the fresh memory. Look at those cars Josh. There are little kids in those cars. Do you really want parents having to explain to their babies why that man threw himself off a bridge? There had been more to the conversation than that, but that was the statement that had convinced him. He had lifted one long leg shakily in the air in an attempt to throw it back over the guardrail, but it had thrown him off balance. It was in that moment Officer McDowell had ‘heroically’ leapt the guardrail and grabbed hold of him. They had stayed that way for five minutes, probably less, while McDowell Call me Scotty. All my friends do had called for backup and an ambulance. Choice of ride is yours Josh. Would you rather show up at the hospital in a cop car, or an ambulance? Josh had chosen ambulance, on the provision that ‘Scotty’ meet him there. He had needed a friend more than ever in that moment, and the young officer had been doing a pretty good job of pretending he cared. McDowell promised he would be there, and that was the last Josh saw of him. Josh glanced around the bare room, looking for something to focus on aside from the thoughts. The room had been emptied of anything not nailed down, including all the chairs and even the sharps container on the wall. When he asked a nurse she had shuffled her feet, obviously not comfortable discussing it with him, and explained that patients deemed a suicide risk had to be placed in ‘safe rooms’. That had left him with a TV, a wireless remote to control it, and the plain white walls in front of him. Another snippet of conversation carried in from the hallway and Josh found himself grimacing as he tried to block it out with his paper-thin pillow. What is this thing stuffed with? Cotton candy? He recognized the voice as being one that belonged to an older nurse a balding, rotund woman that always wore a slightly exasperated smile on her hairy lips. “I guess it’s my turn to go check on Mr. Man-flu, isn’t it?” The next voice belonged to a younger male nurse, one Josh was practically convinced had to be gay. “Oh cut the guy some slack. We don’t know what he’s going through. It might be pretty bad.” Josh felt a wave of relief and surprise wash over him, quickly replaced once more by shame and aching as another voice, this one sounded like a young woman, chimed into the conversation. “Oh please. All of these suicide cases are just a bunch of crybaby, spoiled, rich kids doing it for attention. I bet he’s just disappointed that they didn’t print his name in that article.” The gay nurse laughed, “At least he isn’t one of the crazy ones. He’s just sitting in there all quiet like. He could be attacking people or throwing cups of his own feces.” The young woman spoke up again. “Gross Ruben! I honestly don’t understand why we have to deal with those freak shows. Why can’t we just send them somewhere else, like a real psych hospital.” Mrs. Mustache spoke up again. “Personally I think we should just ship them off to the mountains, let them die. Why do they have to be anyone’s problem?” Disgusted, Josh turned on his TV hoping to drown out the voices in the background. He flipped through the channels, before settling on an old episode of Friends and sinking back into the bed. Several minutes later the large nurse, her name badge read Deborah with a little smiley face sticker next to it, entered the room and gave him her trademark exasperated smile. “How are we doing today Mr. Robertson?” He turned a nonchalant gaze on her with a saccharine smile, “Oh just dandy nurse. I think I’m getting over my man-flu.” He waited a moment as her eyes widened in shock and horror, undoubtedly picturing herself being called into a supervisor’s office like a little girl who had been caught cheating on a test, or pulling another girls pigtails. Josh had a brief, ridiculous mental image of nurse Deborah in a schoolgirl outfit with a blonde wig on, her mustache making her look like a character from an SNL skit. It was almost enough to make him smile, but not quite. Instead he turned his gaze back to the small, boxy television screen. “Any word on when I can leave?” There was a moment of silence, and Josh wondered briefly if he had pushed his luck too far when she responded, “A mental health professional should be here within the next hour. They’ll decide if your hold can be lifted, or you need to stay longer.” A deep breathe, followed by a few tense moments of silence. “You may get released today with a recommendation to speak with a professional. Or you may get placed on a seventy-two hour hold or a fourteen-day hold depending on what the professional thinks is best for you right now.” Josh nodded, the idea of staying in this place for two weeks made him sick to his stomach, and he closed his eyes against the onslaught of emotions. When he opened his eyes the nurse was standing at the door, eyes downturned with anxiety, back stiff with resentment. “Is there anything else I can get for you Mr. Robertson?” Josh started to shake his head, then stopped remembering his cotton candy pillow, “Actually can I get another pillow or two?” Deborah nodded contritely, looking ever more the chastised, bitter schoolgirl, and stepped out of the room. Moments later she re-entered with two more pillows tucked under her arm. She motioned for Josh to lean forward, and as he did he placed a gentle hand on her arm. “I’m not going to say anything. I know what you all think of me, and I’m not going to prove everyone right by running to your supervisors trying to get you all in trouble.” Deborah nodded, relief mixing with the shame and animosity on her downcast face. Josh removed his hand and leaned back in the bed as she scurried from the room. Sometime after lunch a woman so thin she reminded Josh of a Tim Burton movie entered the room dressed in a plain black pantsuit. She smiled and pulled up a chair next to his bed. “Hi!” Her voice was bright, but cold, reminding him of the false warmth of sunlight falling on ice on a ten-degree day. He gave her a half-hearted smile in return. “You must be the mental health professional?” She nodded, “My name is Hannah. And you must be Josh. I’m here to talk with you about your status.” Josh nodded, the terror of having to spend the next two weeks trapped in this box closing his throat like a caved in tunnel. “I’m going to ask you a few questions, and that will help me determine whether or not this is the best place for you. Fair enough?” Again Josh nodded, silently wondering if he really had another option. “Josh why were you on that bridge?” The question, or perhaps the friendly use of his name, caught him off guard and they sat, silence falling over them like the first snow quieting a busy world. “I guess I just didn’t know what to do. Things have been pretty rough for me lately. I felt like that was just easier than trying to keep going, you know?” Hannah nodded and jotted a few notes on the clipboard in front of her. “Okay. Do you plan on hurting yourself or anyone else when you leave here?” Josh shook his head vehemently. “No, no. I don’t have any plans to visit any more bridges, and I’m definitely not going to hurt anyone else.” She gave him a wan smile, and wrote on her clipboard again. “Would you be willing to see a therapist for at least six months?” Josh barked out a tough laugh. “If I could afford a therapist I would be seeing one already.” Her mouth formed a tight line as she turned back to her paper. “Okay let’s say you weren’t paying for the therapist right now. Or you were put on some kind of payment plan. Then would you go?” Josh let his head sag into his chest, feeling unheard. “Yeah. Sure.” She nodded, and set her clipboard down on his bed, looking him directly in the eyes. “Do you want to go home today, Josh?” His head snapped up and he nodded, hoping this wasn’t too good to be true. “Yes. Yes I really do.” She smiled, and placed a skeletal hand on his arm. “I’ll go start your paperwork, and we’ll have you discharged by this evening. I hope things start to look better for you.” He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, choosing to nod politely instead. “Yeah thank you.” Barely fifteen minutes, a few pre-made questions, and now he was on his own again. He shook his head, wondering if his new court ordered therapist would even be willing to listen to him. About half an hour later the skeleton girl walked back in with a sheaf of papers that she placed gently in front of him on the clipboard. “Read through these, then sign in the places marked. It’s basically just agreeing that what you said earlier is true and correct, and that you’ll attempt to seek help.” Josh took the pen mutely and began flipping through the pages, skimming the material to make sure there wasn’t some hidden clause. He came to the last page and signed off with a flourish. “Can I leave now?” Hannah gave him a look that reminded him vaguely of a babysitter talking to an overly impatient child. “First your nurse will bring in your discharge summary. You’ll sign some more paperwork, collect your belongings, and then a cab can take you home.” Josh nodded, and looked away. Hopefully nursing staff would be eager enough to get rid of him that they would move quickly on his discharge. He looked up in time to catch Hannah standing in the doorway. “Thank you.” It was her turn to nod, a professionals cold smile on her thin lips. As Josh walked out of the room, and through the sterile corridors to the main entry he caught snippets of speech coming from the rooms. He passed one and heard quiet sobbing, a disembodied voice saying, “I’m so sorry, he passed peacefully while you were gone.” In another room he heard a voice shouting for pain meds, lamenting their poor fortune, and begging someone to help. Each room he passed seemed to hold a person with a far worse luck than his own. He grimaced, the hushed jeers from the nursing staff mingling with the soft cries filling the ward, and threatening to drown him.