(Gananoque, ON) News reached me today that yet another young person decided the world was too difficult a place, life too trying to continue on, so she stepped off of an overpass and plunged to the concrete below. Amazingly, she landed between two transports on the highway and was not killed, but she has been hospitalized and all that know her (and many who don’t) are shocked and horrified. “She seemed fine!”
The problem with suicide – whether attempted or successful – is that it always seems to take people by surprise. We cannot see inside the heads of those who feel themselves to be damned, who see no light in the darkness, who can no longer find sufficient joy to make it through another hour, let alone another day. Perhaps something tragic has happened in their lives, perhaps they are overwhelmed by events in general, perhaps they are on medication (or have suddenly stopped medication or have been given the wrong medication), perhaps they struggle with a mental illness that convinces them that all of life is simply an illusion and it doesn’t really matter – if they step off that bridge and splat on the pavement, they will rise again from that greasy smear that was once their physical body and continue to function as if nothing had ever happened.
No, we cannot see inside, but we can reach out. We can listen, we can look, we can embrace them and let them know that there is life outside of this moment, that others worry about them, that they truly matter in ways they never imagined.
I suggest that somehow we, as a caring society, no matter where we are in the world, go out and start an organization/centre called “Oui! Care!” (a bilingual pun – “oui” meaning “yes”). Bring in the proper support systems, find a physical location, set up hotlines that are actually open and available round the clock, and make sure that people in need know they exist and that people really do care.
Make access to the standard team of psych specialists available – properly qualified psychologists and psychiatrists, but stay away from the psycho babblers – and let them provide services round the clock. It would be best if we could find a way to do this through volunteerism, or if minimal fees be charged for these services (preferably paid with tax payer dollars as all of us are affected each time a suicide occurs).
Have a physical centre available for people to go to when they feel the need, and make sure that it is open, clean, comfortable and available at all times. Staff it with loving, sympathetic people who can also reach out to the proper agencies and authorities to make sure the best possible care and help are made available.
Above all, promote it in every possible way and pray that people use it. If someone, somewhere can get this started – if someone can reach out and show those in need that there is hope, there is a reason to make it through the night, then all will never be lost.
Sadly, I cannot develop the process – I can only give the world an idea and hope it sees its value. I have no funding, no knowledge of how to obtain such, and no one to approach. However, I do know that there are those of you out there who possess these skills, those who can make something like this a reality. Someone who can light a candle in that darkness and lead a troubled stranger to a safe harbour on the other side of ultimate sorrow. If you can do this, please do.