I’m home. And more importantly, nobody is home but me. I was just at Kroger and Target buying the last two things I’ll ever buy: a hair dryer and an extension cord. The date is January 30th, 2012. Today is the day that I die.
There isn’t anything inherently significant about today, except that it’s the first day I get to be home alone since I decided that it’s time for me to go.
Last weekend was probably supposed to be my chance to study hard and catch up with my classes, but I’ve instead spent it contemplating how I’m going to kill myself. I’ve sifted through the list and had some trouble finding a relatively easy and reliable method. I don’t have a gun license, so I can’t get one. I don’t know of any building tall enough for me to die by hurling myself off of it; at least, not any that I could easily gain roof access to. I’m given to understand that death by self-cutting is very challenging and excruciatingly painful.
Finally, I find one that seems approachable: electrocution. Fill a bathtub with water, get in it, and drop in a hair dryer or a toaster. Sounds easy!
I’ve been informed time and time again that if you’re considering suicide you have to talk to others who care about you. And I did that over the weekend. The problem is that I’m not just having mere passive thoughts about self-harm; for the most part, I’ve decided that I’m going to do it. This means I can only talk to people who aren’t in any position to actually stop me.
After all, you wouldn’t tell the cops that you’re planning on robbing a bank.
This limits my options mostly to friends I’ve made through the web. They’re very kind. They make it clear that they don’t want me to do it, but they’re not forceful or judgmental. They handle the situation very well, but there’s only so much they can do.
But I’m not talking to them today. I’m done talking to people. I’m done pretending that I’m anything besides an insufferable failure. The world is better than me; it doesn’t need me.
It’s time for the main event.
I plug the drain and begin filling the bathtub with water. This is going to take awhile.
I connect the extension cord to the hair dryer and plug it into the socket across the room. I make sure it works; it works just fine. No turning back now.
I undress myself. For a moment I ponder why. Does it really matter at this point? I suppose it’s habitual for me to undress before I enter the shower, but I doubt my family would be all that concerned about the soaked clothing on my dead body.
The bathtub isn’t even half full yet. I set the .mp3 player on my phone to play the theme to Mirror’s Edge; ironically, the song is called Still Alive. I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. The lyrics don’t really match what’s going on right now, but I think the song itself has a strong feeling of finality to it. Plus I just happen to really like Mirror’s Edge.
I sigh and watch the water rise slowly. No turning back now. I can’t fail again.
Finally, the bathtub is about full. I set the hair dryer beside the tub and lie down inside.
No turning back.
I sigh and grab the hair dryer. I turn it up to high and hold it above the water, my hand trembling.
Come on, Justin. No turning back. Finish what you’ve started!
I let out a faint cry and push the dryer into the water.
I hear the dryer make some noises. Then I feel a strange, tingling sensation through my arm.
I wait for a few moments. Nothing is changing. Just a weird feeling in my arm. I move my other hand closer and farther from the dryer; it’s emanating from there.
What’s going on…?
Why isn’t it working? What did I do wrong?! Is the dryer not powerful enough? Is there something wrong with the bathtub? What’s going on?!
I was afraid of this. Something is wrong here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s my fault for not knowing. Just like with everything else, I wanted to do something, but didn’t care enough to put the effort toward learning all the details, and now I’ve failed again. I’ve failed at suicide.
I sigh, set the dryer outside of the tub, drain the water and proceed to take a shower.
Note: Since the incident I’ve learned that modern bathtubs have safety measures implemented to prevent electrocution from occurring. Had I known that at the time, I may not be alive to tell you all this now.
Once I’m done showering I take the dryer and the extension cord and pile them on the bathroom counter. I probably should hide them from my brother so he won’t put two and two together, but… Whatever. I don’t want to think right now.
I step out of the bathroom door and hear my mother calling for me from downstairs.That’s odd. She’s home early. Why’s that?
She just wants me to come downstairs. I don’t know what this is about. I get dressed and go meet her. It turns out her last client of the day didn’t show up. (She’s a counselor.)
“Did you go to class today?”
I’ve been making an effort all along to hide my struggles from my mom, but at this point I give up. “No.”
“I thought so. You’re home too early and showering. Why didn’t you go? What’s wrong?”
I’m definitely not ready to tell her the full truth. “I’m behind in all my classes and I don’t think I can catch up.”
My mom quickly becomes upset, and for good reason. This is the second time I’m failing all my college courses. Her son doesn’t seem to have any drive to better himself.
She threatens to kick me out of her house if I don’t get my act together. I am speechless.
She recognizes what might be happening. “Don’t go down that road again, Justin. Please don’t become suicidal again.”
After a long pause, I reply. “Too late.”
She becomes more upset. She goes on to lecture me about how I need to talk to her more so she’ll know what’s going on. This is a speech I’ve heard many times before.
That’s it. I give up. I fear her response, but I’m done hiding it.
“Hang on, I want to show you something.”
I go upstairs, take the dryer and the cord, and bring them down.
“I bought it today so I could kill myself.”
“It didn’t work.”
Another pause. She thinks for a moment before the tears start to come.
“I could have come home today to find your corpse?!”
At this point I can’t hold myself together. I begin to cry as well. We embrace. I don’t know what to say, so I just apologize multiple times.
What have I done? I’m making her cry. How could I do this?
I won’t relate everything that was said, but many tears were shed. Once we get back to talking about school my mom tells me that college might simply not be for me. She assures me that there are many other options available for me to pursue a career without graduating from a university.
I don’t know what to say to this. I had literally never considered it a serious option before. For as long as I can remember I’ve been taught to believe that anybody who wants a reasonable income simply must go to college. Sure, you have your occasional Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but I always just dismissed them as exceptions to the rule.
Eventually the conversation ends, because I have to go to work.
Surprisingly, I don’t have any sort of breakdown at work. It’s just another boring day, certainly not interesting enough to dwell on.
When I get home my brother Josh is playing some game on the Xbox and my mom is watching. It feels like just another night after work, so I go upstairs, change clothes and get on my laptop.
Josh shows up at my door. “Hey… You want to talk about it?”
I stop what I’m doing, turn to him and look down. “I don’t know…”
Josh walks in and sits on my bed. “You know, Justin, you don’t have to go to college if it’s not for you.”
I nod. “Yeah, I know.”
“There are a lot of options. You can get stable, good employment without having a degree.”
“I think you’re going to be just fine.”
I give a genuine smile. “Thank you.”
We talk for a little while, about my life and my options available. Eventually he leaves, and I resume my usual nightly routine of reading online forums and blogs and playing video games.
I’m playing Left 4 Dead 2 with my friends later in the night when the door opens next to me. I expect it to be Josh, but when I turn to look, it isn’t. It’s Neil, my other brother who lives an hour away. He came to see me.
I immediately close my laptop and stand up and he embraces me tightly. My friends can wait.
I spend the next few hours with my family, talking about things and having fun. Eventually Neil and I end up being alone again and he asks me if I want to talk about it.
We do talk about it, as well as many other things. He tells me about how proud he is that I’ve stuck with my gaming blog and gathered a modest following of readers. He makes me view it in a way I haven’t before.
Each time I publish a post I generally get over 100 views from that day, and gradually less views from each subsequent day. If you were to count up the views I gain just for posting something new it would be probably around 200 to 300, or maybe even 400. That’s a lot of people who are sufficiently entertained by my blog that they’re willing to spend their time reading it.
I hadn’t really looked at my blog as something to be proud of, but Neil tells me that he, as well as Josh and Mom, are very proud of me for it.
One thing he says stands out in my mind: “Justin, you could never disappoint me.”
I feel a great sense of relief, like hundreds of pounds of weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
I don’t have to go to college.
I could never disappoint my family.
I’m going to be just fine.
The date is February 15, 2012. I’ve planned to withdraw from my classes within the week, and I’ll be seeing a professional counselor in the near future.
I don’t know where I’m headed in life or how I’ll get there, but for the moment, I’m happy to be alive.