A quote from the story “Jumpers” by Ted Friend, about Golden Gate Bridge suicides:
“Kevin Briggs, a friendly, sandy-haired motorcycle patrolman, has a knack for spotting jumpers and talking them back from the edge; he has coaxed in more than two hundred potential jumpers without losing one over the side. He won the Highway Patrol’s Marin County Uniformed Employee of the Year Award last year. Briggs told me that he starts talking to a potential jumper by asking, ‘How are you feeling today?’ Then, ‘What’s your plan for tomorrow?’ If the person doesn’t have a plan, Briggs says, ‘Well, let’s make one. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back here later.'”
I cried when I read that passage. Later in the essay, Friend reports:
“Kevin Briggs, the empathic patrolman, was surprised to learn, when he and some colleagues had a week’s training with a psychiatrist earlier this year, that suicidal people ‘are real people—not crazy people but real people suffering from depression.'”
The implied dichotomy is crazy people versus real people. So… I’m not a real person? Or maybe he means that paranoid schizophrenics, “raving” homeless people, aren’t real. If you’re too crazy you don’t qualify as “normal” so you’re hardly a person at all, right? This is Briggs’ insight after mental health training.
I can’t believe this ludicrous world. Whenever it starts to seem okay, I read something like this.