The following FICTIONAL story touches briefly on the topic of suicidal ideation. Suicide is not a favored topic but for people living with PTSD, it is a real and serious threat, especially in our First Responder communities. I want everyone to know that PTSD is not impossible to live with, you can do it. It can be challenging, it can be exhausting, frustrating and down right debilitating at times but for every day we continue to breathe, it’s another victory over the disorder. You can smile again. I believe in you. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help, use the word, tell someone – anyone and everyone. Know your local and national suicide hotlines – AND USE THEM. Enough lives have been lost, this is not your future.
Jersey shook her long hair free of the elastic restraining it. She felt her muscles softening in response to the warmth of the water. She reached for her glass of wine and somewhere in the back of her mind she heard her mother, “Don’t you ever turn to a bottle to solve your problems like your father did.” She scolded herself for allowing that voice creep in. She grasped the cool glass in her hand and gulped a mouthful while gesturing toward the ceiling with her free hand, “Fuck you, Mom.”
Just three months earlier she’d been on the job, laughing with her partner, Nick, doing this thing they did where one punched the other in the arm if they spotted a pickup truck. You see, they both grew up in the country in small towns where pickup trucks were a dime a dozen, it was rare to see a sedan but it was even more rare to see a BMW or a Mercedes. As fate would have it, they both ended up being partnered in the same big city service where almost every car had a luxury tag and pickup trucks were virtually non-existent, to see one for them was akin to a game of “punch buggy”.
She and Nick had stayed partners for almost 15 years. They’d been through a lot together, she was senior to him by two years and she considered herself one of the lucky ones to have drawn such a great partner out of the lot. On the ambulance, that two years made no difference at this stage in their careers, especially after 15 years together. They operated like Siamese twins who’d been separated, she could think a thought and before she would say it, he’d be doing exactly what she’d been thinking. At times it only took a single glance to communicate with one another. They had this connection, she called it partner ESP and he just refused to try to quantify it because it was just too weird to explain. They breathed together like they were one person, not many people could get that kind of partnership.
Her mind drifted as the steam wafted around her. She was conscious of the bubbles in her bath popping, soft and spongy sounding. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes. There was a pressure in the back of her throat and she tried to make it release and relax. It stayed tight, like she’d swallowed a golf ball. She tilted her head back and stared up at the ceiling…
“3520, call” She reached across the dash to grab the mic while Nick drove them toward their usual lunch spot, “3520, go”; “3520, I have a code 4 for you. 6247 Ridgemont Road, in the Remington and Ressler area. That’s 6-4-2-7, Ridgemont, Romeo-India-Delta-Golf-Echo-Mike-Oscar-November-Tango. Caller states a child is injured, waiting on further. Over.” Her stomach did a flip-flop. “10-4. Mark us mobile.” Nick looked over at her as he switched on the lights and sirens. “Bad, huh?” She just glanced at him and somehow they both just knew in that inexplicable way.
A dog barked in the neighbor’s yard. Her head was still tilted staring at the ceiling. The pressure was building in her throat, as if that golf ball had somehow grown. She opened her mouth and stretched her tongue out while lengthening her neck. She thought to herself, “Don’t, okay? Just don’t go there again. Please?”
The ambulance tore through the mid-day traffic, the weather was gloomy but it wasn’t raining any longer. Nick swore as a panicked motorist swerved into their path causing him to brake hard and avoid. The radio crackled again, “3520?” Jersey clicked the mic, “3520.” “3520, use caution. 3 year old child, not breathing, possibly a stabbing, the caller is extremely distraught. Police are enroute.” Her heart sank and Nick’s foot pressed harder on the accelerator. “3520, copy. Are we to stage and await police on this?” “Affirmative”.
They sped along the streets, weaving in and out of traffic. Nick took jammed intersections in head-on traffic in an attempt to buy time. At the next intersection they were passed by two screaming police cruisers. Nick tried to keep up but the ambulance refused to jump under it’s weight. “Awww, lucky bastards.” he giggled breaking the tension as the cruisers soared ahead of them. Jersey sighed, “Well, at least we won’t have to wait on them.” she laughed feeling her muscles relax ever so slightly, “Go be the heroes, guys, we’ll come do the actual work.” They both laughed.
The wine glass was ice cold in her hand. She pressed it to her cheek. Inside her mind she was begging, “Please, please, stop. Just stop. I don’t want to go there, Just. Stop.”
The ambulance pulled up on the street. Half way down were at least four cruisers, cops were swarming on this one yard, guns drawn. “Shit.” Was all Nick uttered. As they cautiously approached, through the crowd of blue uniforms Jersey caught a glimpse of something on the front lawn. A small figure, red hair,supine, covered in blood along the alabaster skin of it’s neck. A woman above the figure holding a knife above her head. She heard herself say, “Oh Fuck, Nick.”
They pulled up to the rear most cruiser where an officer told them through tears, “She’s gone fuckin’ nuts guys, looks like the little guy might be dead already. You might be here for her.” Their hands collided into one another as they both reached for the mic. She let Nick get it as she took in the scene, across the street, a few houses down was presumably the caller, a woman being held up by a man clutched a phone in her hand. “We’ll need one for her too, bring in a couple.” Nick nodded and busied himself informing the dispatch center of the scene and the need for silent approach for additional units.
The steam clouded her vision. Her heart was racing. Her mind felt like it was out of her control. The tears were building in her eyes. Her stomach was fluttering uncontrollably. Her chest felt tight. “Stop! Just Stop, please. Just..Please!” She begged her own mind for control.
The radio on the shoulder of the officer crackled to life. “Knife down. Knife down. Get the ambulance here!” The crowd suddenly surged forward on the front lawn. Nick put the truck in gear as the officer tapped on the door and stepped back wiping his eyes. They seemed to move in slow motion. They hopped out of the truck in front of the scene. A tiny body lay motionless on the green grass, no t-shirt on a blood streaked chest. She didn’t remember getting her gear, she only remembered walking up to that little boy. She could hear the grass yielding beneath her boots. She felt the damp against her knees on the grass as she knelt beside the child. “Just a baby” her mind whispered to her. She looked down and realized she was kneeling on blood soaked ground. He looked like he was bathed in a white light. She was hardly breathing. There were two puncture wounds on his little torso. One near his neck gaped open. Blood was still trickling down and across his tiny body. She heard Nick say, “He’s not dead.”
Her body was working on auto-pilot. Feel for pulse. Open airway. Nick began applying pressure to the wounds. A few feet away the woman was screaming and struggling against the officers holding her down trying to get the cuffs on her. Jersey was aware of a crowd of blue staring at them in stunned silence as they worked. An officer, presumably a Sergeant, began barking orders for a police escort. She met Nick’s eyes and he reached for his portable radio, “3520, We’ve got an approximately three year old child, stab wounds, massive blood loss, pre-arrest. Requesting rendevous with the chopper.” “3520, Affirmative, stand-by for details.”
She intubated the child. Nick secured an IV. The roar of the crowd nearby got louder and then suddenly, she felt herself being pulled backward. She could see her bloody gloved hands coming away from the child, splayed out dumbly in front of her. Her mind could not understand why she was suddenly moving away from the child. In her mind a knife, sliced through the air and she heard a scream, “He’s evil! He’s evil!” The knife plunged into the center of the little chest and buried to the hilt. Nick was flying through the air above her and she could see long blond hair streaking across her vision. The roar of the crowd was undeniable. There were screams. “Holy Fuck!” rang out all around. There was a pile of bodies on the ground next to her. Fists flying. A tangle of limbs, hands.
She struggled to get back up. She had to do something for him. She had to do something. She reached to check for a pulse. Nothing. Her mind whispered to her, “murdered”. She began to force air into his chest. There was this horrible gurgling sound coming from around the knife. “No dammit! NO!”
Behind her the pile began to separate. Two officers now had cuffs on a woman in a ragged blood stained nightgown. “He’s evil! He’s evil! The devil’s child!” she continued to scream. Jersey remembered feeling like she was in a dream as she got to her feet, ran toward the woman and kicked her as hard as she could. There were hands on her, holding her back, then Nick was in her face…and the rest of the day is a blur.
The tears would not stop. Her breathing was coming in ragged heaves. She could feel herself slipping deeper into the tub. Her hands were on her head as if holding it together. Her throat felt like it was holding a baseball. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t scream. Her chest was thudding. She kept seeing that little angel, bathed in white light, skin alabaster against the stark red of his blood, the knife so deep in his chest it was embedded in the ground beneath him. She felt like she was falling. Her mind screamed, “NO! NO! NO MORE-NO MORE-NO MORE!” The glass of wine fell from the side of the tub crashing to the floor. Her eyes shot toward the noise and her throat was released. She began to groan and sob loudly, crying out in a pain that came from somewhere deep in her soul. She found her voice and the words came spilling out uncontrollably, “I don’t-I can’t-I can’t-I-I-I-Awwwwwwwww!” and she was lost again, howling, sobbing and writhing in the tub. Her foot hit the drain cover and the water began to recede around her, she continued writhing, her mind wanting to shut down and she struggling to keep it going.
Downstairs the door slammed shut. “I’m home. Hun?” Feet taking the stairs in two’s, her husband rushed into the bathroom glass crushing beneath his boots. “Shit, Jers, it’s okay, it’s okay, baby, you’re here, you’re here, you’re okay. Look at me. Look at me, hun.” He reached to cover her with the towel. “Shhhh-shhh-shhh. Shhh-shhh-shhh. You’re okay. You’re okay.” He pulled her from the tub and carried her to the bed. She felt like a terrified puppy, her body twitching, her face contorted, her eyes not seeing anything he was seeing around him. He wrapped her in a blanket and slipped onto the bed behind her, rocking her slightly and shushing her until her body started to relax.
Soon her body was limp and listless. Her sobs softer now and her breathing slowing closer to normal. He reached into the bedside table and got her pills, “Here hun, go to sleep for a bit. I’ll make supper.” At the mere mention of his leaving, her hand locked onto him, “No, no, stay. Please, stay.” He wrapped her in his arms again and rocked while he hummed, like his mother used to do for him when he was a child. When she was able, she turned to face him, he could see the pain in her eyes. She held up the pills and said, “If I take them all, I’ll go to sleep, right? It’s just sleeping? It stops if I go to sleep?” His eyes filled with tears and his heart broke. He produced his cell phone and dialed the suicide hotline.