Thursday, June 6, 2013

I am walking to the bridge


"The need to belong is so strong, Joiner says, that it sometimes expresses itself even in death. “I’m walking to the bridge,” begins a Golden Gate Bridge suicide note he cites. “If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”*

Astonishing, the number of people who cannot imagine why someone would want to kill themselves. They have family, close friends, a safety net, a support system. The despair in the eyes of the man on the bridge does not strike them, they have not seen it in the mirror. They have never known loneliness of that kind.

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“On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived."**

Is this the kind of loss an ordinary person has to go through, to finally look out and see the loneliness of others?

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He used to live alone with his cat, they said, my colleague who recently killed himself. His family back home didn’t seem to care, he had no one in this country. He was bipolar, they said, terribly alone, and he lost the will to fight depression, he had no reason to stay alive.

Another colleague mentions that he was the kindest person in that office. Whenever she went to that office, he was the one who came to her desk the day she landed, without fail, made her feel welcome, and made sure that she did not feel too alone.

It takes that much knowledge of isolation, to see it in others. The kindest people you know are probably the loneliest.

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“I always used to think Facebook was a waste of time, I used to look down on people who spent so much of their time on it. Until my marriage broke up. And I lost my child in the process, and my friends drifted away. Now it is my lifeline.”

A story I have heard more than once, in many forms.

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“I’m walking to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.”


** Wave
Photo: Portrait of 'Jeanne', by Amedeo Modigliani. His wife who killed herself.