[I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You) – Fall Out Boy]
I came across this article while ‘stalking’ the Tumblr of a friend of a mutual friend’s.(Yeah I am admitting to being a bit creepy. But due credit is given.)
The story of the Golden Gate Bridge jumper, the one who didn’t survive, was one that I had actually already mentioned on this very blog, in a password protected post. This musing is not a new one, but I think I will revisit a few points nonetheless.
When I see someone crying, one of three things happen:
1. This person is a friend, to which I will probably stop and ask ‘what’s wrong’.
2. This person is not a friend, to which I will probably keep walking, because I know that I don’t want a not-friend (in the sense that the needle gauging our feelings towards each other is not neutral, but tipping towards dislike) to see me cry.
3. This person is a complete stranger, and they are completely alone. This is when I don’t know what to do.
The man in the article, Ritchie, he sees complete strangers in the act of ending their own lives, and he approaches them to talk to them. He doesn’t care what kind of person they are, he just does it. And he sometimes manages to talk people away from the edge.
All these things are amazing skills. All these things really do take someone special.
Because, if I were in his situation – living across the road from a popular suicide spot – I would probably move away. There is no way I can stay in a place where, if I look out, I see the last standing spot of many many lives.
And even if I did stay, I wouldn’t have the guts to try to stop anyone killing themselves. If I don’t do anything, then their death is their own doing. If I stepped out and still they jumped, even if the law didn’t see me as responsible, in my heart I would feel that failure. Even if there was no way to save the person, I would be plagued with ‘what if I looked up sooner, or if I ran faster, or if I just said the right thing?’
And that’s the other point where I admire Ritchie; he says the right things. He doesn’t always say the right thing, but he does and that’s what impressive. What do you say to a person in such an emotional place that they would want to take their own lives? I don’t know what they’re going through, not really. I don’t have a clue what they’ve experienced in their lives. I haven’t seen or experienced half of what is considered enough in this life to be worthy of any wisdom imparting. Ritchie says that he listens, but he doesn’t counsel. Can I really do that? It’s all so easy to say “you should…” but it’s nearly impossible to say “I’ll let you go ahead and do what you are doing” especially to a stranger. A friend, I know; I know their past, I know their thought patterns…a stranger?
Even if we’re not talking about something so drastic such as talking someone out of a suicide, then let’s just talk about the smiling part. Like I said, if I see a friend crying, I will go to comfort them, most likely. But if I see a stranger crying, would I dare? Who am I to try to comfort anyone, whose troubles probably exceed my age? What if they’re emotionally unstable, and violent? (selfishness is intrinsic, sadly.) But like the note from the jumper said, ‘if just one person smiles at me, I won’t jump’.
It’s not so hard to just smile at someone, is it? You don’t have to talk to them, you don’t have to go near them, hell, you never have to see them again. But smiling is a personal action; it opens ourselves to the other person. It’s lowering the social shield of nonchalance, and exposing the soft flesh of humanity. If we smile at someone and they so much as scowl at us, then it’s like a stab against our esteem. We think ‘what’s the point of smiling at someone who doesn’t appreciate it?’
What’s the point? Because what if this person just so happened to be waiting for your smile to save their life? You may not know it, you may never know it, and you don’t get that gratitude, so you might not see the point in it, but this person’s family or friends might.
My ending thoughts are these: I won’t tell you to go start smiling at everyone, and I definitely won’t tell you to try to talk someone out of killing themselves if they look like they’re unstable and have a weapon on them.
But if you just so happened to come across someone standing on the edge of a building, then please say something. Anything. What have you got to lose? A few wasted minutes at the most, and an unpleasant knowledge that sometimes trying isn’t enough. What have they got to lose? Well, that’s pretty obvious.
If you see a person looking a bit down, then give them a smile, or say ‘are you okay?’ I read on PostSecret all the time about the kindness of a stranger saving someone. You can be that kind stranger.