Chapter no 5

Anxious People

Okay. A man was standing on a bridge. Think about that now.

He had written a note and mailed it, he had dropped his children oP at school, he had climbed up onto the railing and was standing there looking down. Ten years later an unsuccessful bank robber took eight people hostage at a viewing of an apartment that was for sale. If you stand on that bridge, you can see all the way to the balcony of that apartment.

Obviously none of this has anything to do with you. Well, maybe just a little. Because presumably you’re a normal, decent person. What would you have done if you’d seen someone standing on the railing of that bridge? There are no right or wrong things to say at a time like that, are there? You would simply have done whatever it took to stop the man from jumping. You don’t even know him, but it’s an innate instinct, the idea that we can’t just let strangers kill themselves.

So you would have tried to talk to him, gain his trust, persuade him not to do it. Because you’ve probably been depressed yourself, you’ve had days when you’ve been in terrible pain in places that don’t show up in X-rays, when you can’t 1nd the words to explain it even to the people who love you. Deep down, in memories that we might prefer to suppress even from ourselves, a lot of us know that the diPerence between us and that man on the bridge is smaller than we might wish. Most adults have had a number of really bad moments, and of course not even fairly happy people manage to be happy the whole darn time. So you would have tried to save him. Because it’s possible to end your life by mistake, but you have to choose to jump. You have to climb on top of somewhere high and take a step forward.

You’re a decent person. You wouldn’t have just watched.

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