I was at my workmate’s desk, looking at some copy, so I didn’t hear the bump. I saw everyone run to the window, trying to find out what was going on. Some people wondered whether a car had rammed the barrier, and a few theories were thrown around before the resident office grinch yelled that someone had just killed himself.

We thought he was joking, so we went to see for ourselves. The man was lying face down on the pavement. He was moving, so we thought he might still be alive, but someone went and touched him, and told us he was dead. There wasn’t a lot of blood, because nobody had moved him yet. He looked almost asleep, or maybe just passed out.

Some of my workmates went down to take a better look. Some took photos and videos, but were so shaken afterwards that they needed a drink. Others were crying. One person was furious, thinking the man might be a terrorist, while someone else wished he had picked a different building.

The body lay there for a long time. In fact, it’s still lying there. We found out the man’s name, and more people start crying. No one at the office is concentrating right now. They’re shaken. They don’t understand why anyone would want to take their own life. But I do, because I’ve been there. More than once.

My workmate is shocked that I look so … serene. I don’t know if that’s the right word. Right now, what I feel is … nothing. I understand that a man is dead, and that people are upset, and angry, and terrified, but I don’t feel much of anything.

The suicide itself isn’t a shock to me. I’m more bemused by the reactions of everyone else. I’ve always thought suicide is the business of the person who died, and to some extent, his loved ones. So I find it odd that acquaintances are so vested in it. There are very heated discussions around me right now, all about why no one should kill themselves. I guess self-inflicted death affects more people than I thought it did.

I considered taking a closer look at the body. I’ve heard people say suicide victims are deluded and that they think death is heroic and easy. My favourite ex described death to me in vivid detail once. He’s in the military, so he’s seen a lot of it first hand, and he was trying to shock me out of a suicidal stupor. It didn’t really work, so he broke up with me instead. He said he didn’t want to be around the next time I tried something that stupid.

Today, I thought maybe if I saw how terrible that body looked today, it would stay in my mind and snap me out of my next depression. But I couldn’t make myself do it. It just felt … wrong somehow. I felt that looking at him just to soothe my demons would be disrespectful. So when the ambulance finally came and turned him over, I didn’t look.

It’s been over an hour, but some of the people in the office are still shaky and teary-eyed. I find that strange. I suppose the average human loves life, and that seeing someone throw theirs away is disturbing. For me, it’s not death itself that stops me, it’s the fear of what would happen to my baby girl once I was gone. The thought of her sorrow, confusion, and tears keeps me from doing anything stupid. I don’t know what drove that man off our office building, but I hope that wherever he is, his soul is at peace.

123 thoughts on “And then I saw a man die.

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