Authors note:: This story deals with suicide. If that topic disturbs you, please hit 'back' now.

Note:  I am in no way qualified to counsel people regarding the subjects I write about.  They are works of fiction.   While I have done my research and learned from personal experience, I can not take responsibility for counseling others.  If you would like more information, resources, or someone to talk to, please visit one of the links below:

No Stigma

National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-784-2433  (certified counselors answer calls 7/24)

National Suicide Prevention

 

"Jumper"

by AmyK

Completed September 21, 2000

 

Jill stopped at the red light and frowned. She could turn right and drive side streets another 10 miles to get to the 5 freeway, or she could turn left and hit the 163 freeway in just a couple blocks. Seems easy enough. Only… turning left would mean that she would have to drive over the bridge. She sighed and waited through the green light, she needed more time to think.

It was just after three in the morning, and the streets were silent as she sat through another green light. Jill hadn’t been anywhere near the bridge at Laurel Street in more than two years, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. She had come within inches of jumping from the ledge of the bridge, and it was only by the grace of God that Officer Kent had talked her down. He saved her life, and she had never forgotten that. Jill sighed, and decided to confront her fears. She could drive across that mean old bridge. It couldn’t hurt her.

She took a sip of her café latte and inched into the intersection a second before the light turned green for the third time. She turned left and headed straight for the bridge.

Jill watched the lights on the railing twinkle in the damp midnight air as she moved closer and closer to the bridge itself. She could feel her pulse quicken and her palms begin to sweat as her front tires made the familiar thump-thump over the metal grates as she entered the bridge.

"I will not look down. I will not look down." She whispered to herself, keeping her eyes focused on the road ahead of her. She clutched the steering wheel as if it were the only thing keeping her from plummeting 137 feet to her death. She’d considered it before, but right now it didn’t sound like a great idea.

She had made it halfway across the bridge, but she felt like she was moving in slow motion. Jill took a deep breath and eased her grip on the steering wheel just before a movement caught her eye off to the left. She unwillingly turned her head quickly, just in time to see a guy in a dark jacket throw his legs over the side of ledge and sit on the end.

Jill’s heart stopped, this couldn’t be happening. She sped up, making it to the other side of the bridge in a little more than 2 seconds. She pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car quickly.

Jill grabbed her jacket from the seat beside her and jumped out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition and the front door unlocked. Getting her car stolen was the least of her worries at that moment. Officer Kent was there for her when she needed it, and this guy needed it now.

She took off in a sprint and headed back for the bridge. She stopped in her tracks just before her foot touched the cold stone surface of the bridge. This was it. She was stepping back onto the bridge to go to the ledge again. Something she never ever thought she’d be doing again. She closed her eyes and stepped, it was too late to go back now.

She didn’t want to startle the young man sitting on the ledge, so she walked at a normal pace towards where he was sitting. She was twenty feet away when she saw him shake his head and push himself from the ledge.

"No!" She shouted as he disappeared from view. Please hit the ledge, please hit the ledge, please hit the ledge. She desperately thought to herself. She’d spent more then an hour on the 2 and a half foot wide ledge 4 feet down from the bridge railing.

"Hello?" She shouted over the side as she leaned over the side. Her dirty blonde hair fell over her face as she caught site of the young man sitting on the tiny ledge, staring at the freeway beneath him.

"Go away." He growled up at her, not taking his eyes from the lines drawn on concrete more than a 100 feet below.

"My name is Jill. Are you okay?" She asked cautiously.

"Go away." He repeated.

"Can I join you?" Jill leaned a little closer.

"No." He grumbled.

"Then I’ll just sit up here." She said as she threw her feet over the side of the railing and sat with her feet dangling by his head. She didn’t want to look down, but could not avoid it. Her eyes drifted shut as her stomach creeped up into her throat. She felt lightheaded as she licked her lips and thought to herself – You can help him. Be there for him. Officer Kent went on the ledge for you. You’ve been here.

"If you come down here I’ll jump." He threatened.

"If I stay up here will you not?" She asked, hoping he’d say yes, knowing he wouldn’t.

"I’m going to jump."

"Well if you’re going to do it either way, then I’d rather come down and at least try to help."

"Don’t come down here." He said with a little less conviction.

"You know… I’ve been right where you are before. Literally." Jill looked around slowly, "Actually, I was up that way, closer to the southbound traffic."

"Yeah right."

"September 9th two years ago. It was earlier though, I had the traffic down there to contend with." Jill nodded at the empty freeway.

"This is none of your business." The man said as he turned his deep… and instantly recognizable eyes on her. Her face flickered with recognition and he frowned, looking back at the concrete. "Great. You know who I am don’t you?" He asked angrily.

Not wanting to upset him more, Jill shook her head slowly, "N-no. Should I?" She stuttered. What on Earth was he doing out on this ledge at three in the morning? The guy from Nsync? That put a whole new twist on Jill’s mission. She felt her confidence drop to her toes.

"No." He said quickly. "I’m no one."

"Well do you have a name?" She asked, softly. "So I can know who I’m talking to here?"

"No." He shook his head and swung his feet back and forth.

"Okay. Then I’ll call you Bob." Jill smiled nervously. "So… how are you doing tonight Bob?"

"Don’t call me that." He said softly.

"What would you like me to call you?"

"I’d like you to leave me alone." He grumbled.

"I’m sorry, I can’t do that." Jill shook her head and took a deep breath. "Like I said, I was out here on this ledge too, and a police man came and sat on the ledge with me. Officer Kent. He helped me out a lot." Jill paused and watched him shift uneasily on the ledge. "It’s… it’s not as bad as you think it is."

"How would you know?"

"What could be worse than dying?"

"Plenty." He said softly.

"Wanna talk?" Jill asked a second later, she was getting nervous sitting on the ledge.

"No." He shook his head as he began to cry.

"Why don’t you come on back up here. I’ll buy you a coffee and we can talk."

"I don’t drink coffee."

"What?" Jill asked. She wasn’t sure she heard him right.

"I don’t drink coffee." He said a little louder.

"How about soda? Whiskey? Water? Milk? Whatever you want to drink, I’ll buy it for you, just come on up here." He didn’t respond and she dreaded her next sentence. "I’ll come on down there if you want, so we don’t have to shout." She waited for him to say no again. To give her a good enough reason to stay on the security of the railing. He didn’t utter a sound so she carefully lowered herself over the side and onto the little ledge. And it was little. It was a lot smaller than she remembered. She shook slightly as she scooted as far back as she could, so that her back was pressed against the side of the bridge.

"Why do you care what I do?" He asked softly.

"Because you need someone to care. And tonight it’s gonna be me." She winced as she realized she’d used a title from one of his songs.

He cringed at the same moment and said, "You should just let me jump."

"I’m not stopping you." She said softly. "If that’s what you really want to do, then there is nothing I can say that will change that." She shook her head and tried not to look down. "I just don’t think that’s what you want to do."

"Yes it is." He insisted.

"Well… at least I can try to help then. So I’ll feel better."

"And this is all about you feeling better now isn’t it?"

"That’s not what I meant." She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the stone. "If I left you alone out here on the ledge, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Not now that I’ve committed myself and got my dumb ass back out here." She could not make herself open her eyes.

"Were you really out here?"

"Yep." Jill nodded.

"Why?"

"I wanted to jump." She opened her eyes a fraction of an inch and looked at him.

"Well yeah…"

"I was having a real bad week." She smiled slightly and shivered. It was colder out here than she’d expected. "I um, I was fired from my job and kicked out of my apartment on the same day. I was coming down off of a heroin high and generally feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was walking to my friend’s house to see if I could crash there when I got here, to the bridge I mean. So I stopped and sat on the rail for a while, then finally I hopped down here to the ledge, swearing I was going to do it. A police officer saw me from down there, and came up to sit with me. He saved my life when I didn’t even think I had a life to save."

"What did he say that changed your mind?"

"That he cared about me, and that he wasn’t going to let go of me. He held onto my shirt sleeve the whole time."

"Yeah?" He asked, looking over at Jill slowly.

"Yeah." She smiled and reached out to grab the pocket of his jacket. "So I care about you. And I’m not going to let go of you."

"That doesn’t always work." He looked away and wiped his eyes.

"I know." She nodded. "But it can’t hurt." He didn’t say anything for a minute; he just sniffed and wiped his eyes a couple times.

Ten minutes later he turned to Jill and said, "I have people that care about me you know."

"Okay." She nodded. "That’s good, there’s a start. What do you think they would say to you right now?"

"I don’t know." He shook his head.

"Can I venture a guess?"

"You don’t even know them." He said.

Jill shrugged and said, "I bet they’d say the same thing I would. Don’t do this. Whatever it is that has drawn you here and put these thoughts in your head, they can be worked out."

"It’s nothing that needs to be worked out. I’ve changed too much and I can’t get back to what I used to be. To how I used to be."

"You don’t like where you are now?" Jill asked, careful to keep in mind that she wasn’t supposed to know who he was.

"No." He shook his head slowly. "I’ve got everything I ever hoped for and it’s not enough anymore."

"What do you want now?"

"I want to go home." He whispered as his bottom lip quivered.

"Where is home?" As if she had to ask.

"Florida." He said softly.

"I can help you get home." Jill nodded and adjusted her grip on his pocket.

"It’s not that easy." He shook his head.

"No, I’m sure it’s not." She agreed. "But if that will get you off this ledge, I’d be willing to get you there any way I could."

"My going home won’t change anything. I am who I am now. I can’t change that."

"Yes you can."

"No… I can’t. Not without giving up everything."

"Maybe it’s worth giving up."

"I’d let everyone down if I gave it up." He shook his head slowly. "I’ve disappointed them enough."

"You’d be surprised. People are harder to disappoint than you think." Jill smiled. "But if that’s what you’re worried about, I’ll be very disappointed if you jump."

He gave a short laugh before wiping his nose on the sleeve of his jacket, "That won’t work. I don’t know you, and I don’t care if I disappoint you." He said, though not in a mean way.

"Well… I care about you, and I don’t want to see you go." Jill said with an almost maternal tone to her voice.

"I don’t fit in anywhere." He said a moment later.

"What about your friends?"

"No. They’re different."

"Everyone is different."

"They all fit with each other. I mean, when people look at us together, I’m the one that doesn’t fit." He frowned. Jill thought of the others in the group and wondered what he meant. They all fit well together, and she couldn’t think of him being an outcast, or different.

"You fit in there somewhere. You complete your circle of friends. You’re what they are missing." She said gently, her heart broke as he spilled his.

"No one knows how much I hurt." He said after a few silent minutes. He tried to hold back his tears, but he was not succeeding. "I mean, I know I come across to everyone as this guy who has it all, the beautiful girlfriend, the cool car, the… the awesome job." He paused and wiped his nose again. "But I’ve worked hard for everything I own, and I’ve made more sacrifices then anyone could even imagine."

"But that’s what life is about, making sacrifices."

"Yeah, I know that. But I sacrificed things that I can never get back. My morals, my standards, my beliefs… my family." He coughed lightly and said, "No one can understand how badly that hurts. I’d give up all of those material things to have that back."

She moved her hand from his pocket to his hand, and held on tight. She wasn’t sure if that was such a wise move, because if he jumped he’d end up taking her with him. He grabbed onto her hand tightly and cast her a quick smile. "Under different circumstances, this could be a nice evening." He said softly, looking down at their hands.

"It still can be."

"No." He shook his head.

"You don’t want to jump." Jill said as her heart sped up. If he went over now, she was stuck.

"Yes I do." He whispered as he began to cry. He hid his face in the folds of his jacket, but didn’t let go of her hand.

She let him sit there and cry for a couple minutes… he had his pride. She shifted her weight from one butt cheek to the other, trying to keep her legs from falling asleep. It seemed to be getting colder as the breeze picked up and tossed her hair across her face.

She brushed her bangs off her forehead and looked out over the freeway and part of the park. It actually wasn’t so bad up here, as long as you didn’t look down. She swung her feet back and forth to keep the blood moving and to give herself something to concentrate on.

Under different circumstances this could be a nice evening. Yeah it could. I am under the stars holding hands with one of the babes from a world famous boyband. How many girls in America would die to be in my place? Die. Bad choice of words. Jill thought to herself as he brow curled into a frown.

Jill tried to organize her thoughts, she thought back and tried to remember what Officer Kent had told her. What was it he said that made a difference?

"Hey…" Jill said suddenly. "I’ll give you a dollar if you don’t jump." She smiled, hoping to elicit the reaction she was hoping for.

He laughed shortly and smiled at her, "You’ll try anything won’t you?"

"Anything and everything." Jill said as she shivered slightly and put her free hand under her opposite arm to try to keep warm

"I’m just sorry you’re wasting your time."

"I don’t think I am. You haven’t jumped yet." She said. "I’m hoping that the longer you wait, the more you’ll think about why you shouldn’t."

"I’m only thinking of why I should."

"Then do me a favor."

"No." He shook his head.

"Just tell me one thing that makes you happy." Jill said quickly, as her teeth began to chatter involuntarily.

"You should go back up there. You’re freezing."

"A small price to pay." Jill said, looking his square in the eye. "What makes you happy."

"Nothing." He broke the gaze and stared down at the first car they’d seen that night. They sat in silence for a few minutes before he turned to Jill and asked, "Are you happy?"

Jill thought for a second and checked her watch, it was after 4 in the morning. They’d been out on this ledge for more than an hour and the Monday morning commuters would be hitting the freeway soon. "I don’t know." She shook her head.

"You don’t know if you’re happy?"

"Well, I’m not unhappy. So I guess that’s better than nothing."

"You think?"

"I’d rather be ambivalent, than unhappy." Jill explained. "What about you?"

"I should be happy."

"But you’re not?" She asked.

He shook his head, "Would I be here if I was?"

"True." She nodded. "Are you ever happy?"

"Sure." He looked her in the eye and gave her a little half smile.

"When?"

"When I’m shooting hoops. Or when I see a beautiful girl smile." Jill grinned like the Cheshire cat, showing all her teeth. He chuckled lightly and said, "Or seeing my family."

"If you jump, you can’t do those things again."

"I know." He nodded.

"Are those things worth all the crap that brought you here?" She asked. He didn’t answer for a minute. "You say your family makes you happy, but just think about what this will do to them. When they get that call that wakes them up this morning, saying that their son, their sweet, kind, caring, beautiful baby boy, took a swan dive off of a bridge." Jill added softly. "That kind of pain does not go away."

"You were going to do it."

"Right, and I didn’t have any family members dreading that call. I didn’t have any friends that would be concerned enough to come look for me when I didn’t show up for a few days. I had nothing, I had less that nothing." Tears rose in Jill’s eyes. "Which is why I can’t understand why you’d even ponder this. I mean, you may not like who you are, but you can always change that. You’ve got your whole life to become who you want." She wiped her eyes quickly as he blonde hair skitted across her cheek. She brushed it away and continued, "You can make that change you know. To be happy. If you just stop taking life for granted. I mean, no matter how hard it gets, no matter what kind of shit life deals you, at least your alive."

"I don’t want to be." He argued as he wiped the tears from his eyes.

"Yes you do. You’re still here. If you were serious about this, you’d have jumped before I even got here. You wanted someone to find you, to talk you down."

"No I didn’t."

Jill took a deep breath and released his hand. She closed her eyes and before she could change her mind she said, "Then do it."

"What?" He asked, shocked at her proposal.

"But before you do, know that if nothing else, I care about you and I don’t want you to jump. You have a friend in me, a guardian angel. You can do what you please, but I will always be here for you, no matter what."

He stared at her in silence for a couple minutes before reaching for her hand. Jill’s survival mode went into full force then, and she tried to pull away. The only thought flashing through her head was him taking her hand to pull her down with him. She struggled to free her hand, very conscious of the sharp edge of the ledge digging into the back of her thigh.

"Please don’t let me go." He pleaded softly, looking up at her with a tear stained face. "I don’t want to do it." He whispered as he leaned onto her shoulder.

Jill breathed a heavy sigh of relief and carefully wrapped her arm around him as his warm tears fell on her neck. She shivered again as the wind kicked up, blowing his hair into her eyes. She quickly brushed it away, then left her hand on top of his head, cradling him like a child. "It’s okay." She said softly.

"I’m sorry." He choked.

"It’s okay." She nodded and continued to stroke his hair. "It’s going to be okay." She could barely hold her tears of relief back.

"Thank you." He whispered as he clung to the front of her shirt.

"You’re welcome." She said softly. "You’re welcome." They sat that way for a little while, until the cars beneath them began honking. A sure sign that the police were on the way. "Let’s go on up, if the police show up…"

‘Yeah." He nodded, he understood. He sat back and wiped his face, "You saved my life."

"No…" Jill shook her head, "I helped you save your own." She smiled, using the same line Officer Kent had used when he pulled her off the ledge. He scooted closer to her as they tried to wake their legs up. It was hard sitting on the cold stone for an hour, and they had pins and needles shooting up their legs.

Jill smiled as the sun began to turn the sky pink. She’d done it! She scooted sideways and used her arms to try to pull her up to the railing. She held on tight as she went to swing her leg up and over the railing.

She didn’t hold tight enough. Her hand slipped as she lost her balance and fell backwards, her arms flailing, desperately trying to grab hold of something. A mask of fear fell over her face as she realized what was about to happen. "Justin!" She shouted just before she lost her footing.

He watched in horror as Jill began her descent to the pavement below. She fell in slow motion, her hair flew madly around her face as her mouth froze in a silent scream. Her body contorted as she helplessly grabbed onto thin air.

Justin’s heart stopped in his chest as he closed his eyes… and dove after her.

 

National Suicide Prevention Directory

1-800-784-2433

 

"Jumper"

by: Third Eye Blind

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,
You could cut ties with all the lies,
that you've been living in,
and if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand.
I would understand,
The angry boy,
a bit too insane,
Icing over a secret pain,
You know you don't belong,
You're the first to fight,
You're way too loud,
You're The flash of light,
On a burial shroud,
I know something's wrong,
Well everyone I know has got a reason,
To say, put the past away,

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,
You could cut ties with all the ties,
That you've been living in,
And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand,
I would understand.
Well he's on the table,
And he's gone to code,
And I do not think anyone knows,
What they are doing here,
And your friends have left,
You've been dismissed,
I never thought it would come to this,
And I, I want you to know,
Everyone's got to face down the demons,

Maybe today,
We can put the past away,
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,
You could cut ties with all the lies, that you've been living in,

And if you do not want to see me again,
I would understand,
I would understand,
I would understand . . .
Can you put the past away,
I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,
I would understand...

 

 

: amyk@amyk.nu

 

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Copyright © 2000 Amy Lynn