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!”

Etc.  Etc.

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!


59 thoughts on “Thinking Before Speaking … A Rare Commodity

    1. Thank you. I had to do some mega-editing as my first few drafts were much angrier. So many people just don’t think before they post some hurtful comment as if it being on the internet makes it okay. I don’t get it.

  1. My mom committed suicide, and it’s amazing how flippant people can be about the topic. And you’re right, it’s unlikely they’ve experienced the effects first hand or they’d be more likely to keep their thoughts to themselves. If I saw someone post a comment like the ones you saw, I’d reply to them with a link to This is Water by David Foster Wallace. His message about not assuming you’re the center of the universe and that even the biggest jerks you run across in everyday life have stuffing going on you can’t possibly be aware of has helped me re-evaluate a *lot of aggravating situations. Thanks for your post.

    *not all 🙂

    1. I haven’t read that. I’ll have to check it out. I’ve commented before and it amazes me how quickly people attack you just for asking someone to consider other’s feelings. I’ve had to force myself to stop responding as it tends to make me angrier and doesn’t seem to make anything better. Maybe I’ll just start adding that link instead as well.

  2. Well said. And it is right to be judgmental. Our society has demonized the concept of judgement and that is wrong. Judging others behavior allows us to keep a civil society on track. I have been judged and even if I don’t agree, it is fair and just to judge the words and actions of others. You could judge them as laudable or as abhorrent or as careless but I think judging is okay.

    Did they save this man? I hope so.

    1. I just a report that he was taken into custody. He was up there for hours. I’m very glad, especially since he has a young son. I hope he can get the help he needs.

      1. I’m glad that he is getting help now.
        I appreciate that, even though you admit that you haven’t experienced depression yourself, you stopped to put yourself in his shoes and to think of how his family might feel. You balance your judgment with empathy. If only more people could do the same.

      2. Well I unfortunately have been on the family side of things so it wasn’t a giant leap for me to understand that part of it. While a member of the family may be the only one going through it, the side effects are far reaching and affect everyone around him or her. I hope he is able to get better. I really do.

  3. There is no more ignorant example of society as those who comment on newspaper articles or links to stories like the one you’re discussing. Our local paper switched from a format where it could be done anonymously to a FB posting comment scheme, but the dumbshits still comment without thinking. We have many jumpers into the Mississippi near me and it always sucks for everyone involved.

    1. I finally had to quit reading. The one I posted wasn’t even close to the worst one. It was just the first one I read that made my stomach turn. People love hiding behind a computer screen but they wouldn’t dare say anything like it to a person’s face. Cowards.

  4. This makes me extremely sad for the state of humanity. That some people can be so detached from the human element of life is astonishing to me. So many people go through their days as if they’re in a movie, they’ll live forever, and there will never be a moment in their lives where they may need another human being to help them get by, or worse off, they may need to rely on the humanity of a stranger.

    As someone who has dealt with severe depression, I know what it feels like to think to yourself “you don’t know me or what I’m going through” when hearing others judge you for your actions during these times. It made me so angry how some people would treat me just because I was sad. Rather than console, they ridiculed. Rather than listen, they laughed. Half of them never had a clue that after listening to all their B.S., I would go home and consider whether death was a better way to proceed. Thankfully, I helped myself out of the rut, but it’s still something that I’ll always deal with. And even though I like to think I “beat it”, it’s always going to be a part of me and who I am. And there is always the fear of falling back into that abyss, and wondering who may be around to help me… the sad part, is it’s not as many as you would think.

    It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that we are so lost in this way, that we can’t understand where a fellow human can stray and find themselves in such a horrible place in their lives and at least have some compassion towards them, instead of disdain. It’s not easy, but I often try and remember that EVERYONE has something going on. The dick head who just got snippy with you at work may be dealing with a wife who has cancer, or a son who just committed suicide, or a daughter who just OD’d at the age of 14. While it doesn’t excuse anyone, it doesn’t mean that we all need to forget that it’s the truth of the matter. We all live, we all breathe, and we all have feelings; in the end, we’re all HUMAN. Something that we should all account for daily and when dealing with all of those around us.

  5. I can’t even begin to believe that these were actual comments posted by actual people. I have no words.

  6. Great post! I think it is very kind of you to say that most people don’t mean to be insensitive. I have found just the opposite to be true. They mean exactly what they say. This person, though, may be callously coming at it from a different direction. Some people need to be in the spotlight, and often cause great distress for others. While we don’t know the motives of the jumper, he certainly made sure that he was center stage for it. As a former suicide attempter, my primary objective was NOT to be found, and get it over quick, and really serious suicides are the one’s who plan to do it with success in mind. (I was “saved” during planning by my mom, who for some reason came home in the middle of the day.) So perhaps she was judging his intentions and motivation. But I certainly think that dissing on a person’s motivation who cant fight back is, again, insensitive and callous.

    1. I guess I’m just hoping they weren’t meaning to be insensitive considering that some of these comments were on Facebook (meaning they were ‘friends’ of mine).

    1. I don’t know what they are thinking. Do they think it just doesn’t matter because it’s on the internet? It amazes me.

  7. The comments won’t have an impact on the person who creates the moment – naturally. But for anyone who may be in the midst of struggling against the mire that depression creates in the mind, those types of comments only show the callousness of the world.

    Thank you for softening the ragged edges of cruelty.

    1. Well said. I had to calm myself down. It took a lot out of me to not respond but I finally realized it would most likely only make things worse. I try to think that maybe they have something going on in their lives that could make them so callous but it just doesn’t excuse the comments. Unfortunately, people just suck sometimes.

      1. And online, some people just say crap to get a rise out of people. What keeps me from responding most of the time is not wanting to titillate them any further. I mean, EWWWWWW.

    1. I just feel that people don’t think anymore, especially when it comes to putting things out there on the internet. It baffles me.

  8. working in mental health I run into this constantly.. You did a nice job of keeping the anger at bay and still saying something very pertinent.

  9. This is the kind of thing that makes me equal parts sad and angry. I have been in that much pain, and it’s nothing to joke about or make light of. Sometimes I get so down, to see so little compassion and empathy in the world. Thank God for people like you, who see beyond themselves.

    1. Oh goodness, thank you. I was definitely more angry this time. It still makes me boil inside when I think about it. It’s a good thing I believe in karma 🙂

  10. And this is why I so rarely comment on current events on facebook. Unless I’m commenting in a positive “Yay, your state stands for marriage equality” sort of way.

    1. Oh yes, I had to quit as well. I commented on a gun debate once for the sole purpose of gathering information as I don’t know anything about guns but I made the mistake of mentioning I’m not against background checks. I was attacked so quickly, it made my head spin. I just stick to Google now.

    1. I don’t think I even noticed it until the second or third time I read it. Couldn’t believe it was there!

    1. “I’m into judgmental, but I’m not into stupid.” I’m stealing that. I was going to insert more of the comments but I didn’t want to people to lose complete hope in humanity.

  11. I read this when you posted it and had to take a little rawr-break to not get too upset about people’s insensitivity. I’m a geek, and a techie-geek above all things, but I can’t help but feel some of this heartlessness is a result of technology. The anonymous nature, the eerie feeling of watching life through a computer, the ability to get famous off of one startling comment, and the need to say something that makes you catch someone’s attention. I don’t know if all this tech is creating, or just bringing out, how so many people feel so ignored by life that they’re willing to forsake their humanity and honesty for a “like”.

    It sounds like the man jumping off the bridge was crying out for help… but in a way, all those FB posters were doing the exact same thing.

    What a crazy conundrum we find ourselves in!

    Great post, lovely lady– it really got me thinking! 🙂

    1. Unfortunately, I think the tech is just bringing it out in people as I dare any of them to say it to someone’s face and I bet no one would do it. They feel they’re invisible which just shows their stupidity even more!

  12. This kind of thing happens all too often here in NYC. Sadly, a few times a year there are stories about people jumping in front of subway cars, and most of the comments go something like “couldn’t this guy make his jump in the middle of the night instead of during the morning commute so I wouldn’t be late for work?” After 8 years here, I think I might be a little desensitized to the comments, so thanks for writing this to remind me that they are never, ever ok.

    1. I’m the same way. I steer clear of the comments sections on these websites as much as possible just because I know they are there.

  13. As a woman who supported an Aunt who eventually completed suicide, I thank you for your words. People are cruel, and do not take the time to understand or empathize. I believe it is because it is uncomfortable – we don’t want to put ourselves ‘there’ unless it’s absolutely necessary because there are no ‘good’ feelings associated with suicide. As family members we are paralyzed by an inability to change the course of history unless the individual themselves chooses to be open and willing to receive the love and support we are freely giving. Helplessness and discomfort are a dangerous combination, and lead to the hateful and hurtful things that people can and do say. Thank you again for this post.

    1. Thank you for reading and for your comments. It amazes me how a little inconvenience can turn people into monsters these days.

  14. Great post — especially love this line: “ignorant asshole hiding behind a keyboard.” I think so much of the vitriol we encounter is because people feel invincible, they would never dare say such things to someone’s face. I think there is a tendency to forget that the line is very thin and we could find ourselves on the other side in an instant.

    1. I definitely agree. I can see the invincible aspect in regards to commenting on news websites where people you know won’t see it but the stuff I see on Facebook just baffles me. I can’t believe some of the things people post knowing that their friends and family will see it.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. Well done. People don’t realize the power that words have and they wield them carelessly. I get it, traffic sucks. Many a day I have been caught in stand still traffic and cursed everyone I could think of. But I never found myself hoping that the people in that car crash all died, because that’s what they deserve for making me late for work. It’s unconscionable. Especially since those horrible people were probably AT work by the time they wrote that, so had time to contemplate their words. So very sad.

    1. It’s terrifying to know what really goes on in some people’s heads since they seem so eager to blast it all over the internet. I try to avoid comments sections on the internet as much as possible.


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