The Cost

I read a creative poem on another website this weekend and it struck a nerve so I want to share it with you all. I have to be honest, I am ignorant of poetry and would not have known to call it a poem had I not read the author’s description. It is a powerful piece, and is attached below, after my ramblings.

There are many things about being a police officer that I love, and a few things that I would rather forget. Of all the calls for service, crimes, and crashes I have gone to in my career, suicides have always hit me the hardest.  The men and women of the Santa Rosa Police Department went to almost 500 suicides, attempted suicides, or threatened suicides in 2015.  I’m lucky that I have not lost people close to me due to suicide, but I have witnessed a few of them and at times the memories of those events can still choke me up. My stories are not unique. I believe most public safety professionals with any time on the job have similar stories to tell. Like me, I’m sure they wish they didn’t.

I have watched powerlessly from across a room as a distraught father asked us to tell his 11-year old daughter that he loved her and then put a high-powered rifle barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

I have tried in vain to find and save a suicidal 18-year old boy only to listen on the phone as he cried out and shot himself in the head.

I have found that boy’s lifeless body in his car, still holding his gun, and yelled in anger at a neighbor who had the gall to try and take pictures of the tragedy.

I have had to tell a man that his wife, the woman he has spent most of his adult life with and raised their children with, hung herself in their garage.

We sign up for these things, and willingly accept the responsibilities, but they take a toll.  Suicides make me angry and profoundly sad at the same time, and reading the following piece by Meggie Royer brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Ms. Royer for your writing, and for the permission to re-post it here.

Please, if you or someone you know is at risk for suicide or just needs help, get it. The cost of suicide is too high to bear for the people in distress, their loved ones, and even the strangers who only meet them after it is too late. There are people who want to help, and I have linked some resource information at the bottom of this post.

– Captain Craig Schwartz


The Morning After I killed Myself


Meggie Royer

The morning after I killed myself, I woke up. I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.

The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love.

Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.

The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.

The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.

The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.

Sonoma County Suicide Prevention

NAMI Mental Health Resource List

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