I’m ashamed to admit, but I was super pissed about spending 2 hours wedged in-between thousands of other cars as dozens of police and firefighters assisted a suicidal man. As I sat in the bumper-to-bumper gridlock from Hollywood to the Valley, a fleeting thought crossed my mind: this guy is selfish. I mean, why an overpass on one of the busiest freeways in the world at rush hour on Friday? Why create a spectacle and ruin everyone else’s start to the weekend?
Wow, I’m a jerk. But seriously, why did my brain default to that thinking? Well, it’s probably because I was being exceedingly selfish. In that moment, I was thinking of my inconvenience, my empty stomach, my empty gas tank and the fact that I was going to be late to my gig. It’s a fairly common thought pattern in this me-centered universe we live in. Yes, even me who definitely knows better.
But if we take a look beyond ourselves, we always find much more to the story. Threatening suicide is generally not a stunt to gain everyone’s attention, but rather a final desperate cry for help in the hopes that just one person will take notice. This often comes after a long weary journey where the only foreseeable way to end pain and suffering is to end one’s life. Who can blame someone for being selfish when every moment of their life is consumed with this type of misery? You see, getting to happy hour on time is the least of our concerns here.
Knowing this, what if we refocus our energy into awareness and prevention resources? What would happen if the small cries for help were heard long before someone needed to shout if from an interstate bridge? The facts are these: There are warning signs for suicide. We can all learn to recognize them. Suicide is preventable. It may just take one person to look beyond themselves and reach out to someone who is struggling. Don’t be a selfish jerk. Learn more at NoStigmas.org.
P.S. Thanks to those who helped see the man to safety and who provided great suicide prevention resources, like Jean Trinh of LAist did in this article.