So last night, as Scott and I were dishing about the events of the day and the kids were actively avoiding eating their peas, the subject of suicide came up. There's the DFW thing, obviously. But it turns out that there was an apparent suicide here on Monday. It was a guy who teaches at our college, who we both knew by name but not in person.
And Scott said, "I don't understand how someone could do that." Or something to that effect, if not with those actual words. I started to attempt to explain -- having had suicidal ideations myself in the last eight years -- and then Maddy asked a question, then another, then another and I lost track of the thought, which is probably for the best because, while Maddy groks death on a 6-year old level, I'm not sure how much she could understand about suicide. Besides, she'd never let me get five words out before she interrupted, then interrupted again. And again.
My subconscious stored up the question.
Because I do understand how taking your life starts to sound like a good idea, on some basic gut level. In the shower this morning, it dawned on me how to explain it, using an analogy I've stolen and embroidered.
Feel free to skip this. I'm putting it down here just to have a place to put it. Tomorrow's post will be about carrots. Come back then.
So imagine that you are on the ledge of a burning building. You are high enough that if you jump, your death is assured. There is a crowd, yelling the sorts of things that crowds do. Through a trick of acoustics, you can hear them. Don't jump, they yell. Help is coming.
So you wait. You can feel the fire beneath you. It's not quite hot enough to cause a major concern but, still, um, fire.
You can hear sirens. They sound far away.
The crowd yells up -- Hang on just a little bit more! Help is on the way. They just got a little lost. We're working on it. Just hold on.
You can hear sirens in the distance. But still see no trucks.
The soles of your shoes are getting hot. Bearable, yes, but worrysome.
Firetrucks pull up to the building, thank god. Only the hoses they have aren't long enough. They put out what parts of the fire they can. And yell up to you that they've sent George back for longer hoses. No need to worry. Just hang on.
The water they had helped. Still, it's pretty hot and now you're starting to wonder about structural damage from the fire and how long the building will stand. The first inklings that maybe, just maybe, the fire brigade enough knowledge to fight this fire because the particulars of any given fire are fairly unknowable. The firemen are doing their best certainly but do not inspire great confidence.
Hang on, they yell.
And you do. But the new, longer hoses only deliver a trickle of water. Peeing on the fire would be just as effective. So they run back to get bigger hoses. Which takes long enough that you can feel the fire on your back, your body slick with sweat. Rational thought is starting to escape you because there's that lizard part of your brain yelling WHY WON'T YOU GET AWAY FROM THE FIRE! FLEE! GET AWAY!
But you don't have many options. You can go up in flames or take some agency over the situation and jump. The firemen are doing their best but honestly don't know enough about how fires spread or burn or extinguish. The building burns despite them. You start to realize that there is nothing that can be done. Other than jumping.