Against Suicide

1

I have to tell you about what just happened.

I feel almost stupid telling you about it, but maybe it will help someone.

Maybe it will help.


I just stopped someone from killing himself on the street in Dublin.

2

I was walking home from the movies, and as I crossed the bridge to the south side of the Liffey, I heard a woman screaming.


I thought she was joking at first.


Then I saw her boyfriend trying to jump over the iron fence into the river.


She was screaming "Stop" and "Please"

3

I ran to them.


She was trying to hold onto him.


He was almost over.


I grabbed him. I pulled him back and to the ground and his leg was caught on the fence. I tore his pant leg and he fell to the ground.


The he got back up again, screaming.

4

He was young. She was young. I don't want to describe them, but they were the sort of people you'd see out and think, they look beautiful together.


He started to jump over the fence again and I grabbed him and then, there were three more people.

Four.

Five.

Holding onto him.

5

She was crying and screaming.

He kept trying to lunge forward, to pitch himself into the river.

We held him there and he screamed.

It took a lot to hold him back.

We said different things.

Someone said, "It will get better."

Someone said, "let it out"

Someone said "stay here"

6

He fell to the ground again.


Buckled at the knees.


He was struggling.


One man held his hand. A woman kneeled by him. His girlfriend held his head. I put my hand on his heart and held his arm.


He was crying.

"You should've let me go! Why didn't you let me go!"

7

The next part is the part I want to tell you most.

But first I need to say, I've tried to kill myself.

I've struggled with suicidal depression most my life.

To see that pain I've felt in someone else was...something.


His heart was pounding under my hand.

I know that heartbeat.

8

His girlfriend said "I'm his girlfriend," to someone.

Someone else got his phone and wallet, cast across the sidewalk.

A few people stood by.

I was looking at him and he was looking at me. We were all there, completely.


This is the part I want to tell you:

9

"What's your name?" the woman by him said.


"Brian," he said, so humbly, so quietly. (His name was not Brian)


"Hi" the woman said.


"I'm Conner," I said to him. "Hi."


"I'm Aisling"


"I'm Brendan" the man holding his hand said.


"I'm James"

(not Aisling, not Brendan, not James)

10

We all told him our names and met him there on the concrete.


His heart started to slow.


His girlfriend rubbed his face.


The garda (police) came.


The were cold, of course, but helpful.


We stayed with him there.

11

The ambulance came.


We stayed with him, holding him.


"Who will pay for the ambulance?" he said. "I can't pay for an ambulance."


"You don't have to worry about that now," his girlfriend said.


"How does the world keep going?" he said. "How?"

12

I told him he'd be okay.


I told him I'd tried to do this, too.

And I said, I understand this, but also, don't ever try this again.


I told him, you'll be okay. I said that a few more times.


He got into the ambulance. His girlfriend followed.

13

Afterward someone said, "I saw what you did back there."


Another said "You ran right for him."


"Thanks," I mumbled. It was a stupid response.


I felt dumb saying "thanks."


It's not something you say "thanks" when being noticed for.


It's something else, instead.

14

What I was thinking was:


All of us.


Holding a stranger.


Being with him as he cried.


As we cried, too.


Saying our names to him by the River Liffey at night in Dublin as the water rushed by.


How we're all here for each other.


No matter how isolated we are.

15

Remember that.


We can know each other in this way.


We all bear the burden of the world together.


We'll hold each other back, and just hold each other.


I said thanks to God for having me be there.


We love each other.


We're here for each other.


That's it.

(October 16, 2019. Hope you’re better today, Brian.)

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