Today I briefly experienced one of those events which is completely
out of the ordinary and which makes you take a long internal pause.
I work on the fifth floor of a building which looks out across the
city. This afternoon, my colleague returned to the office and reported
that there was a person standing on top of the building next to us,
threatening to jump.
The office was full of mixed reactions. Everyone’s first reaction,
however, was to run to the window. I knew instinctively that I didn’t
want to see what was happening. I didn’t want to stand and gawp at
someone potentially seconds away from death. And yet, as my
imagination took me to some dark places, I found that I was unable not
to look. I moved to the next room, looked out of the window, and there
Without being dramatic, it is genuinely one of the most harrowing
scenes I have ever witnessed. There stood a woman, hands spread like a
crucifix, lost and suffering, standing on the edge of a six storey
I desperately wanted to help her. I wanted to know what had taken her
to this point, on a day just like any other. I was angry for her; that
life is so cruel to people; that they can get to such a point.
I only watched for a few seconds and moved away. There are some things
that do not need to be seen.
As I went back to my desk, I prayed for the woman, whilst two of my
colleagues discussed suicide. One commented that to commit suicide
took “bravery and that not everyone would be able to carry out the
act. Another colleague was very offended by the comment and argued
that it was, in fact, the complete opposite of bravery and an act of
cowardice: “the easy way out”.
It is a common debate, and often one fraught with emotions and pain
from familial experience. I would not want to argue my point too
strongly with anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one through
suicide as each experience has different causes and different effects.
But what I do want to say is that I once read a quote that, to me,
summed up why people can find themselves standing on the edge of a six
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill
herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract
conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not
because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its
invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself
the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of
a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from
burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still
just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at
the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling
remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s
flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the
slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall;
it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk,
looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the
jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt
flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” ~David
It’s not desiring the fall; it’s the terror of the flames.
A colleague informed me after thirty minutes that she had successfully
been talked down.
I hope and pray that she soon finds a way to face the flames. I hope she knows that she is not alone.Nobody should meet their end that way.