“All right, we get it, you’re really depressed and everyone needs to know it. Will you please, for your sake as well as everyone else’s, just kill yourself already?”
For a moment, the good doctor’s words stunned young Jeremy, seventeen-year-old boy with black hair, eye shadow, and minor scars all up and down his arms and legs. It was the first time anyone had just up and told him to put his money where his mouth was, or more aptly his dad’s gun where his mouth was, and do what he threatened to do. Like clockwork for the past five years, he had gone to the doc and the doc had given him reassurance, prescriptions, and guidance.
Now, of all people, he stood before Jeremy, who sat shocked and angry and generally full of self-pity in a comfortable velvet seat, and had asked the question. The doctor, Udel, towered over him, sunken eyes tired of constant whining, anxiety, and depression of every sort. His hair was thin and white, his cheeks high and pronounced.
When he had first seen the doctor, Jeremy had been terrified—Udel belonged in an old sci fi movie, he belonged in a laboratory where awful experiments were conducted. Yet his cold, booming voice had for years comforted and even saved the teen.
“I don’t get it. Did you just…” Jeremy tried to rationalize his position.
“Was there some confusion? Here, let me ask you again more directly. If you’re going to just kill yourself someday anyway, as you insist you are, why don’t you just go ahead and do it?”
“Well I, I mean…uh…”
“Got you in a corner there, don’t I?”
Jeremy was trapped. Doctor Udel, the only man who seemed to understand, the only man who seemed able to help him at all, had become the only man who wouldn’t be moved by his suicidal threats. The boy looked at the floor.
“Listen, Jeremy, you’ve been on antidepressants for years. When we started with them, I’m sure they were needed. But let’s face it; they aren’t anymore. You use your diagnosis to get you out of obligations, fights, relationships, whatever. Hell, I think you even used depression as a way of getting that damn phone computer you’re carrying around everywhere.”
“I’m not faking, man! You can’t tell me you think I’m faking it! You’re my doctor! Can’t I trust any—”
“There you go again, asking for sympathy. ‘Can’t I trust anyone anymore?’” Udel said in falsetto, and then added, “You don’t fit the bill for suicidal depression anymore. You’ve never made any attempts, you threaten it to get what you want, you cut yourself to make intentionally superficial wounds—there are a lot of people your age who need help, but you aren’t one of them.”
Udel wouldn’t budge, no matter what Jeremy said throughout the rest of the session. He said there would be no further refills on his antidepressants when they ran out. No matter the crying, the outpouring of traumatic events both real and contrived, the begging to be heard, Udel would not change his mind. Jeremy left the office empty-handed.
All he had to do was fake it, he thought, fake an attempt. Why he did this—why he didn’t just accept that Udel was right and he wasn’t in any real need of help—was never something he bothered thinking about. Jeremy waited for his prescription, which he weaned himself off carefully just to make sure he didn’t actually lose his marbles, and then went to enact his plan. He had to fail an attempt and Udel would have to admit he was wrong. Maybe his folks would even sue the doctor.
At one in the morning exactly—for no special reason, that was just the time he last saw in his cell phone as he went out—Jeremy headed for his school. It was chilly out, and the year’s first snow was staying put when in years past it had not lasted more than even just a few hours. He sent a message to Sarah Winkel, his girlfriend on an acreage south of town, that he planned on killing himself—she of course tried to plead with him to stop.
He reached the school, sending one last text about where he was and expecting her to say she would be there in a flash. She was a crazy driver, after all. Waiting for the response, he kept his hands in his pockets so as to feel it vibrate, and he pressed toward the science wing, where a dumpster made it easy to get onto the roof. His heart pounded in his chest as he clambered up on top the school.
This would teach them, he thought as he surmounted the sloped roof onto the art room, which for some reason was nearly as big as the gym and even had a pair of impressive skylights. On a more introspective day, he probably would have had a chat with Chad about that—why make the least important core look so damn cathedral-like? From there it was easy to reach the gym.
Long ago Jeremy had lost his fear of pain and heights—one was trivial, a sensation that could be suppressed. The second was just a matter of getting drunk on top of the school enough times; it was a small town, and the kids managed to get away with a lot so long as they did nothing real bad. He was about halfway across the gym roof when he realized Sarah hadn’t responded.
In the last two weeks, people hadn’t paid quite so much mind to his threats and angry spats. His mother had denied him gas money no matter how much he swore at her and called her evil for depriving him of what he needed to see friends. His dad hardly batted an eye when he heard what Udel had said, in a tearfully exaggerated fashion from Jeremy. Chad had completely ceased talking to him after he had flipped out at him for agreeing with the doctor.
And now Sarah, it seemed, had fallen asleep while he was just midway through his sad climax.
He reached the edge. His plan had been, initially, to jump feet-first and at the very worst break his ankles. Now he began to wonder if that was really the right way to go about this. Sure, he could jump and injure himself and arouse just enough interest to look like a suicidal teen with a poor understanding of physics, but that wouldn’t last long enough.
It was obvious to him that his girlfriend was only sympathetic because she felt obligated to be that way, not because she really thought he would do it—maybe she didn’t even give a damn. It must’ve been the same for everyone, if Udel’s decision had changed them so quickly. And so, any disingenuous attempt would be temporary—eventually, they would stop feeling obligated.
The hell with it, thought Jeremy. I’ll prove them wrong. Permanently.
And so, in a simple nose dive, he made for the pavement.