It was a nice day as layers of clouds blanketed the sky from the hot sun when she went on the cliff and inched her way towards the edge. She sat, extended her feet past the cliff’s border, stared blankly over the mesh of trees and rocks below, and became emotional and detached. As she recalled memories from the distant past to the recent incident that left her in distress, tears rolled down from her glossy chestnut eyes so she buried her face in her hands. “Why’d you do this to me? I thought we were friends…” she muffled…
Several years ago, as Sophia sat there idly looking out the window, people outside were busy chattering looking for their rooms. This made her even bored but among the sea of heads that bobbed and dipped, someone noticed her, and that person’s eyes, lips, and spirit all at once smiled at her. She smirked and somehow knew that they would become great friends.
A few moments later, that person with the beguiling smile went to Sophia and they introduced each other. Her name was Jessemy and it suited her perfectly, delicate and lovely like a flower but at the same time fragile.
Time passed from high school to college to employment, they were inseparable. They studied together and traveled in tandem. A fight would burst out from time to time but they had resolved it before it escalated.
Feeling the pressure and stress from work build up, they went for a hike on a mountain near the borders of the city to loosen up. The hike was supposed to be Jessemy’s solo trek but since it seemed like a good idea for de-stressing, Sophia insisted on joining her. While taking photos at the cliff near the top of the mountain and Jessemy was saying something, Sophia felt the need to empty her bladder so she went to look for a comfort room. After she was done, there was a commotion near the edge of the cliff. A girl hugged her boyfriend tight while the boy was looking down the cliff. A woman was talking to someone on the phone was pacing back and forth and rubbing the nape of her neck. Another man was shouting frantically for help as he started to descend from the cliff. It was all happening so fast but her alertness spiked as she tried to look for Jessemy to ask what happened. However, she couldn’t find her anywhere and she’s starting to panic so she asked someone if they saw her. The woman she inquired suddenly had wide eyes and covered her mouth then hugged her tight after giving her the description of her friend. She had a hunch but she didn’t want to believe it but now that she understood the situation, tears flowed out from her eyes as she screamed her grief.
It was an accident, they said. Someone saw her walked to the edge then slipped and fell. However, she didn’t believe it. At the base of the mountain, before they climb up, Jessemy told her something sentimental and she just smiled and asked why she was suddenly being emotional. “If you don’t want it then I take it back.” Jessemy jokingly replied then they laughed and started climbing.
She blamed herself for the death of her friend. If she had noticed the “signs” sooner then she might have helped her friend. When her friend told her at the mountain’s entrance about how much she loved her and was grateful that they became friends, she should’ve noticed that she was going to do something stupid.
That her friend was always “happy” because she wanted to hide how she truly felt and she didn’t want to kill the mood or bring others down. Or to be abandoned by those people around her.
That her friend was clumsy and careless because she was always deep in her thoughts; distracted by her inner demons.
That she had this unusual eating habit because somehow it helped her feel less emotionally empty inside. That her drinking habit was her way of covering her emotional pain, or an attempt to cry for help.
That her friend always wore makeup because by doing so she felt like she can mask her pain and her dark and unpleasant self.
All of these thoughts were running harshly in her mind. Feelings of sadness and helplessness then anger because her friend abandoned her. Leaving her in a state of distress. She stayed at their apartment, shutting herself from the outside world and mourning for her friend.
Two weeks had passed and she was back at the cliff. Extreme guilt had led her there and she couldn’t think straight. The struggle was becoming unbearable and tiring.
Now finally, all her feelings and disarrayed thoughts made it into a conclusion. Her eyes glanced at her surroundings, one last look before she would end it all, but her gloomy lustrous eyes were still crying for someone to save her. Hoping for at least one person to help her but no one came. She stood up, looked below and then let herself fall. For a moment, everything felt like time slowed down. Memories flashed as if watching her own life’s movie. Then her world became blurry and in an instant, she felt the impact all over her body.
Bryle was reading a book when an anguished scream ripped through the silence and made him jump in alertness. The cry came from Sophia’s apartment unit, which was next to his. Without reservations, he got out of his room and kicked the other unit’s door open. Shouting Sophia’s name while searching through the dark room, he found her lying in bed sweating profusely and trembling with sobs. She was having a nightmare! He had struggles waking her up but when she woke up; he could only hug her tight and reassure her that it was only a dream. “It’s okay, I’m here... just let it all out…”
(Bryle was Sophia and Jessemy's friendly neighbor for three years. He moved into the apartment building just two days before them. He had a crush on Sophia but had no guts showing his real feelings.)
That night, Sophia cried her heart out, told Bryle about her terrible dream, and how extremely guilty she was for not being able to save her friend from self-destructing. And that… she wanted someone to help her fight her own demons...
DISCLAIMER: Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
People bereaved by the sudden death of a friend or family member are 65 percent more likely to attempt suicide if their loved one died by suicide rather than natural causes, University College London researchers report. - Susan Scutti
This story was focused on the struggles of a bereaved person. On how and what she felt after losing someone and not being able to do anything; or for not being able to “see the signs”. However, these ‘signs’ were needles in a haystack and there won't be any “Hint” button that you can leisurely press and will show you where to find it.
It was more of a symptom than a sign. No one would notice unless they were hyper-observant people. And no one would know if the person couldn't tell anything. But when you were able to catch those subtle cries of help then don’t let go. These are those intermittent times when they put down their iron walls and tell someone about their situation. A vital moment to build trust and connection to the person struggling.
Extreme guilt, feelings of failure, and a whole lot of emotions will haunt people bereaved by suicide. During these dark times that as a family, a friend, or as a human, we should offer our support. Even if it’s just by listening or by letting them know that you’re there for them.
There's no guidebook to helping someone who's dealing with something like this.
The best advice I can probably give to friends or colleagues or whatnot is just not to walk away from that person… you just gotta stick in there.
Anyway, in the story, Bryle was the person or friend that Sophia needed at the moment since he cared for her and was willing to listen and take her feelings seriously. Although, I did think that the sudden introduction of his character at the end of the story did not help build his character. But his character did what he had to do. So, I guess all's well.
Below are the lists of articles and reads I made use as references.
EFFECTS OF SUICIDE ON FAMILY MEMBERS, LOVED ONES
Committing Suicide Increases Family, Friends' Risk Of Attempting Suicide By 65%
11 Habits of People With Concealed Depression by Lexi Herrick
6 Secret Signs of Hidden Depression by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
Most People Who Are Suicidal Don't Want To Die, They Just Don't Want To Be Alive by Roxxanne MacDonald
Supporting a friend after someone dies from suicide
Supporting a loved one after they have lost someone to suicide
How to help a friend with depression
Suicide Prevention Resources for Survivors of Suicide Loss
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you. -Neil Gaiman