September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. As someone who has sat suicide watch, who suffers from suicidal ideation when depression gets too bad, and who almost became a suicide statistic, this is very important to me.
In 2019, I participated in Story-A-Day in September, challenging myself to write a piece of flash fiction (a story under 1,000 words long) each day. This story, based on a real incident, was written on September 24, 2019.
by K. V. Clements
The ground is never as soft as it looks. But that didn’t make it any less inviting. Surely chance to fly, if only for a moment, is worth the cost of hitting the earth.
That’s what I tell myself. But the ape part of me, the one that survived millions of years of evolution, is not convinced. And besides, I’m at my favorite place in the world. Why would I kill myself, here, by my beloved ocean?
I look out. I spared no expense getting the best room for my final view. Dawn is just breaking, the bright gold of the sun glinting on the water. The start of a new, cloudless day. I can hear the roar of the breaking surf. Breaking. Just like me.
The once-comforting sound dulls. I feel the reverberations of the waves pound me into tiny, jagged shards of shell. The tide is endless, remorseless, crushing and grinding, day in and day out. That is all I can look forward to. That is all there is or ever will be.
The ape-self recedes, beaten into submission by the tide. I look back at the ground. These bars, secure enough for a toddler, are no match for my adult self.
I can do it.
I will do it.
I glance out one last time at the sand, the sea, the sun. And my tide stops.
Dolphins. I see them breaking out of the water, their dark, wet backs glistening in the sunlight. A whole pod straddles the divide between ocean and air. They are swimming, but also flying. They possess both fins and wings, sharing the realms of fish and fowl and reveling in both. They do this with an un-self-conscious joy, because they can, because it is what they are meant to do.
With the sun behind them, I can see the spray as they blow out the old, stale air and suck in a fresh breath. I watch them, holding my breath with them, only releasing when they do in a blast of spray.
I feel my old, stale thoughts fade with each breath I share with my sea-sibs. Like the waves, like me, the dolphins are breaking. But unlike the waves, which break with a grand white foam cacophony, then disappear, the dolphins are breaking into. They become something more, something grand and beautiful, yet so simple, vanishing only for a moment back into their element before returning. Whole.
Shall I be a dolphin or a wave?
I take another breath and step back from the rail.
Thank you for reading!
If you or someone you know needs help,
there are mental health resources available:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline Online:
SAMHSA Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Mental Health First Aid: