Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicide.
Captain Hindsight is a character in South Park. He shows up after events to tell everyone what they could have done to avoid said event.
Every day, on my way to work, I drive under a bridge over the motorway. The bridge is decorated with flags, team colours, flowers, 4 packs of beer, graffiti etc. The kind of adornments you only see at the site of a tragedy. This particular tragedy happened around a year ago or maybe longer and the adornments have been continued and varied since then. This is the bridge that a man jumped from to his death on to the motorway below.
Each day when I drive past, I look up at his team colours and spare him a thought. I didnt know him and I don’t know anyone who did. I don’t know his name or what kind of life he lead. I didn’t read about it in the news or on social media, but I know what happened.
I’m not sure how to phrase the thought I had when I drove past today. It was not a nice thought. It was also not as negative and accusatory as it sounds. I know that with suicide, often the victims don’t make anyone aware of their plans. Sadly and incorrectly, suicide is seen as the only way out of their situation or away from their illness.
When I drove under the bridge today and thought about how consistent the tributes to this poor gent had been, I wondered how many of the people who laid the tributes checked in on him in the weeks before his death. I wondered if anyone had missed a call from him and not called back. I wondered if strangers had seen him in his car and caught his fraught expression. I wondered if anyone had wanted to ask if he was ok but stopped themselves due to etiquette or fear of prying. I wondered if the notes and flowers are by way of an apology for those who will carry the guilt of not getting to him on time. I wondered if he had told those little white lies to health professionals, and if the health professionals believed him or were banned from following their gut because of red tape.
In my work, I have been told by my superiors that I am unbalanced and they are worried. At the same time, they put pressure on me to be better before I have received treatment and encourage me to consider the feelings of my colleagues more than my own. They expect me to get over this like a cold rather than learn to live with it and cope with it. I do not feel that I am at risk of committing suicide. I feel like every day is a battle, and the fact that I got through a whole day at work yesterday is no guarantee that I will make it today. There is uncertainty. I cannot trust my brain. I feel the need to talk to someone but I don’t know who or how or what to say.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I hope in future, when I am better, I can notice the signs in others. Instead of expecting them to ask for help, it needs to be offered. I hope to approach the stranger parked up outside crying in their car. Even if they’re fine, I’d much rather ask and have them tell me to fuck off than leave them to think they’re alone. I hope I could do it now if I thought anyone needed help.
I read the other day that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else. I feel for the man who died. I feel for his family and friends. I wish I could help. I wish I could alleviate the guilt and the pain and the questions. But all I can do is try to help someone else.