Rebecca Joy Novell

The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.

Suicide

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
she stood.

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
building.

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
storey building:

“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
Foster Wallace.

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.

Novs x

One comment on “Suicide

  1. theBarrovian
    20/02/2013

    That David Foster Wallace quote is perfect. His is the voice of melancholy.

    Speaking as one who has climbed to the top of a literal mountain in order to attempt a leap of faith to escape the inferno, I cannot help but sympathise with that poor lady.

    There is nothing cowardly about suicide. Suicide is the final brave act of someone’s who has spent too long being strong. There’s nothing easy about it. Making the decision to end your life is a long, arduous, painful argument with yourself.

    It does take a kind of bravery to make that decision. It takes an even greater bravery to allow yourself to be talked out of it. Whatever that lady had been through to lead her to that roof, she was strong enough to take the step back from the edge.

    I sometime’s think I can’t understand why someone would think that suicide is an easy way out. Then, however, I think that they simply can’t comprehend it. Which, I suppose is a good thing in the end. If they’ve never been driven into those dark realms of the mind, wherein suicide is a viable way out, then that’s really a good thing.

    David Foster Wallace nails it. But then, he would, wouldn’t he?

    I pray to the old gods, and new, that this poor lady doesn’t find herself up there again.

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This entry was posted on 19/02/2013 by in The Beginning and tagged , , , .

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