Thinking Before Speaking … A Rare Commodity
There was a jumper this morning on the bridge I take during my commute. As I checked the local news sites and Facebook looking for updates, I was floored by some of the comments:
“He needs to just do it already so people who aren’t lunatics can get on with their life. 🙂 Zero sympathy, not even if he was a family member.”
“Just jump already! I gotta get to work!”
It took every ounce of willpower in my body and soul to not post a response to these comments. While I know most of these people weren’t meaning to be insensitive, it still shocked me that they would say such a thing on a public forum with zero thought about how others could interpret the words.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve never posted or tweeted something that could be taken the wrong way. I know that most people don’t actually wish death upon another person. However, for someone reading those posts who has been on the other side of suicide (the family’s side), words like that make your heart jump into your throat.
Suicidal people are not lunatics. They are depressed. The girl with the damn smiley face in her post has obviously never known someone to commit suicide. I’m glad her life is so damn perfect that she can just wish death on this poor soul hanging 200 feet over the Charleston Harbor. I’m glad she doesn’t have time between manicures and beach days to think about the family of this man, who has a wife and a young son. Good for her! It must be so easy to pass judgment on someone who has inconvenienced her so much on this Monday morning. I’m sure he is terribly apologetic for that delay in her commute.*
I have never been through depression. I have never been suicidal. I don’t know how it feels to wake up in the morning feeling that death is your only answer. I knew someone who was suicidal in high school, but none of us who knew him realized it in time to save him. The effects of his death are deep and unending. His family is forever tormented by it, constantly wondering what they missed and whether or not they could have done anything to stop it. I can’t imagine what would go through their heads if they read these comments. I shudder at the thought of more pain being caused by some ignorant asshole hiding behind a keyboard.
We all make mistakes. We’re human. We all say things we don’t really mean at times. This man on the bridge needs help, and even though his suicidal threat is most likely a cry for help, why don’t we hope he actually gets the help he needs instead of judging him for making us a few minutes late to work. You may think your words have merit. You may mean them as a joke. However, you never know who will be looking at that Facebook post and wondering why you could be so indifferent to a stranger’s pain.
*Whoops! Just got a little judgmental. My bad!