Friday, April 18, 2008


I went to my Professional Communications class today. Last class of the day, ready to break out and do whatever we want for the weekend. Our teacher was running late. She was in the classroom down the hall with a man and a woman. I didn't make much of it then.

Cut to about twenty minutes later. The few of us that showed up decided to sign a roll sheet and cut out when she finally emerged from the meeting. She did not look mad, but she was obviously not her usual chipper self. She proceeded to tell us that the couple she was talking to was there about their son, who was in one of her other classes. In fact, he was in the class that met previous to mine.

I say "was" because the young man killed himself. I don't know anymore than that at this moment, and I didn't want to push for many details.

My teacher then expressed to us that as young black men, we had to realize that we were just as susceptible to these sorts of feelings as anyone else, and that we needed to express them.

According to my school's wellness center website (emphasis mine):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the country and the 3rd leading cause of death for black males ages 15 to 24.

She told us that even if we couldn't talk to family or friends, out of fear or worry or what have you, we had to talk to somebody. She even offered to help as much as she could.

And while this was going on, all I could think was: that could be me. Still could

I have danced on the razor's edge far too often and definitely far too long. I don't know if I ever told you this, but I remember my first real suicide attempt in second grade. I had been put in time-out for not being attentive (didn't know about the ADD yet) and had to sit in this little room next to the classroom. It wasn't really a room; it was open to the entire area. It was a storage area for the arts and crafts and stuff, I think. And they had a couple of desks as well. But what I remember most was the window. A rectangular swing-open kind, if I recall right. Outside, there was this little ledge, followed by a straight 20-ft. drop to the concrete playground below. For some odd reason, I went o this window, pushed it open a bit, and stuck my head out. I fixated my attention on this little rock that was stuck on the ledge, and even planned to climb out and get it.

That was me, can't follow the lesson, but couldn't leave a rock out of place. I was a weird kid.

I got as close as sitting on the sill. And looked down. I wondered what it would feel like, falling that far. I knew it wouldn't last long. I thought about what would happen: would I feel it? Or would my brain be crushed before it could register it? What about feet first? Would I accordion like in the cartoons? What would be the big deal? Who would miss me?

Why shouldn't I?

Luckily (or for those of you more spiritually inclined, by the grace of G-d), I decided not to. I still have no idea why. Possibly because of my family, possibly because of my then-faith, possibly because I loved Chip 'N' Dale Rescue Rangers too much.

Told you I was a weird kid.

And it has been like that for over two decades now. Yo-yoing between life and death. And my brother's passing didn't help matters. Now instead of just curiosity, I had survivor's guilt as well. But that is a story for another time.

I definitely still have the thoughts. Hell, I even inquired as to what happens to student loan debts in case of the student's death (apparently they can be canceled). But nowadays, I have a few more reasons beyond cartoons, although they still count (if only my younger self discovered anime sooner). So I take it one day at a time, and whenever I feel those urges, I turn them into stories. Now if I could just write them down....

I seriously believe that if it wasn't for my family (well, certain relatives), and you guys (and this blog), that could have been me.

Thanks a lot.

P.S. I swear I will put some fun and happy thoughts up soon. It is definitely needed.

2 brain pickings:

  1. Don't ever, ever, ever let that be you, V.

    The world would be a far grayer place, I can assure you. And from my heart: a hug for you and your brother. A long, tight, real hug.

  2. Shadows of DakaronApril 21, 2008 at 10:34 PM

    Vermillion, I came to know you late, and didn't even start looking at your blog until quite recently, but I feel you are a great person and a kindred spirit. Don't ever let that happen to you. They say that going through with it is akin to giving's not just that, it's denying the possibility that it can get better. There's always the chance that life arranges itself right, that the world accepts your place in it. But that can't happen if you kill yourself.

    That was a lesson I had to ingrain into myself to stop my own suicidal thoughts and black mood swings from consuming me. It's an active effort, every day...but that is what I try to keep foremost in my can get better.


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