I have thought a lot about the act of suicide - not for myself, for crying out loud; I'm not about to want to leave the party early - but I think about how desperate a person must be to take his or her own life, and, in some cases, to take others along.
I was just a barefoot boy with cheek of tan when the man named Anthony, our laundry deliveryman, committed suicide after murdering his wife. He used to give me extra shirt cardboards that had pictures to color on them.
And our school librarian jumped off the Bay Bridge, apparently the result of a marriage gone bad.
No need to go into detail, but I've seen plenty of people affected by suicide and I still don't understand it. It must be the last possible resort for someone who feels utterly and miserably trapped by circumstances.
Such was the case late last week when a man living in the next community over from here killed his two sons and then himself. His girlfriend said he was so despondent over having lost his job the week before that he saw no hope for the future. And he decided not to leave his sons here on earth to carve out their own futures, and took them with him.
There was a time when psychological and psychiatric services were just not available for the average family, and people with problems from which they couldn't escape had no recourse. Call your local health department for a referral, call or visit a hospital, google "counseling services" along with your zip code and you will get linked to help.
And while we mourn the sad loss of three people, let's remember that the person who feels they are in the deepest throes of depression is not always ready to reach out for help. It just might take one or more of their friends and family reaching out, saying that they're here, putting a literal or figurative hand on the person's shoulder, and saying, "Let's work this thing out together, you and me, ok?"
Movies and TV shows glorify the all-American cowboy, John McClane in the eighty-seven Die Hard movies, standing up to countless terrors and terrorists. It would be great if we all could be McClane, dropping witty bons mot and terrorists at the same time.
But some people are facing terror more awful than Hans Gruber. For some people, the bridge back to the life they knew, the life they want again, is out, and sometimes we have to be that bridge.
I can't tell you what went on in that house around the corner, or in that father's shattered mind. For all I know, lots of people tried to help him, and nothing worked.
But that just means that when we have a friend standing on the edge, we can try and try and try to bring them back across that bridge. Sometimes just knowing someone is there for them is all they need.