A friend witnessed the aftermath of what seemed to be an attempted suicide yesterday, and did her best to help, but the situation seemed very dire, and she is unaware of the ultimate outcome. Both the situation as she described it as well as the apathy of people who also had to have seen what happened made me think of something similar that happened back in 2006, I think, when I worked at the Regal Cinema in Parkway Plaza.
You could walk from the upstairs lobby down a wide walkway leading to the back doors. From the doors, you went across a walking bridge to the top level of the three story parking structure. I was parked on the top level one night, and was walking across the bridge to get something out of my car—I don’t remember what. I saw red and blue lights, and happened to look down just in time to see a gurney with a body bag on it next to a large pool of bright blood on the ground.
I stood there for a moment and watched a few people walking by the scene, while others took pictures on their cell phones. It looked as if they were excited rather than disturbed.
Just as the bag was zipped the rest of the way up, I caught a glimpse of a woman’s pale face and stringy blonde hair plastered with blood. I went back to work, and later talked to a few people in the mall who’d seen what happened. The stories were all mostly the same, so there had to have been some truth to them.
Apparently, the young woman had sat backward on the railing surrounding the second floor of the parking structure, and just pushed herself off backwards, with her head striking the hard asphalt two stories below.
This one gentleman I spoke to had ran out to see if anything could be done and was very shaken. “She had a tattoo on her shoulder,” he said, looking down. “It was a butterfly.”
I didn’t know what to say.
The next day, I combed the newspaper and online to see if there was any more information about this woman. Her obituary—such as it was—ended up as little more than a few sentences in the newspaper, with a bolded title of something like “Woman jumps from parking structure.”
She didn’t jump, I thought. And it occurred to me to wonder about the woman with the pale face and the butterfly tattoo.
What could it have been that caused such an extreme reaction to something that was likely a temporary problem?
I never found out.
I remember her face, though. I stood there on the bridge and looked down as they zipped the bag up and slid it into an ambulance with the lights off. After the ambulance left they hosed the blood away.
The thing that struck me most about the whole situation is that so many people—with the exception of the sandwich shop guy—seemed unaffected by what happened. Someone had died, but after a brief pause, we all just went back to work.
It occurred to me then—and it occurs to me now—that it sucks we’ve arrived at a place where the value of a human life means so little.
It’s my prayer that we can get to a place where young women don’t have to push themselves off parking structures.
Where there are people to talk to, and cry with, and pray with.
And now, every time I see a butterfly tattoo on a woman, I think of that night, and that woman with the pale face.
It makes me wish I’d known her.