To The Man In The Green Jacket


Making the choice to take your own life is not one easily arrived at. If you or a loved one is considering committing suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Were things really so bad that taking your life was the only option?

To The Man In The Green Jacket

I am not sure if I ever had the chance to meet you or know your name, but around 6:30 this morning you made an impression on me that I will never forget. This morning started off like any other day for me, but today was my first day back to school for the Spring semester. I had a rather nice conversation with a friend on my commute and got breakfast this morning before making my way over to campus. I ate in my car, saw my fellow students arriving on campus, and then I saw the police. The first officer drove past my car and as I looked over to my right another officer was just pulling up. I was slightly puzzled about what was going on until I saw one of the officers walking with a young man down the stairs, escorting him to his car parked close to me. At first, I assumed that young man I had seen minutes before leaving his vehicle had been caught doing something inappropriate until I saw him grab his wallet out of his glove box and realized he was not handcuffed. They both walked back up the stairs before both officers came back down and left to block off other entrances. One officer making her way down was visibly agitated and I could not figure out why.

In my rearview mirror, I saw the lights and heard the sirens. Looking in front of me I saw more officers coming from the other side. Was there an active threat on campus? Was I in danger just a floor below the top level? I saw the ambulance and fire truck roll up and knew something had happened. I thought perhaps you had been struck by a driver not paying attention and were fighting for your life. I hoped it was relatively minor.

A new officer arrived and I saw the infamous yellow tape in hand. He started talking to the nursing students parked along the wall that had gotten out of their cars. Being just across the way, I could see him mouth something about moving their cars. Many started walking towards the back elevators. I assumed my car would be safe and started getting my things out. The officer made his way over to me and by the look on his face I could tell it was something serious. He asked me if I was planning on being on campus for awhile as he was going to be taping this floor off. I let him know I would be on campus until at least 4 this afternoon and he let me walk towards the far end. His eyes seemed to beg me not to ask what had happened and upon not saying anything further he slowly walked off.

As I walked towards the elevators in the back, I happened to catch up with two nursing students in their white scrubs. I was hoping to take the stairs up and out but thought better to ask if either of them knew if we were allowed to do so. One woman said, "We are going to have to take the elevator down and walk around. A man committed suicide." Two more nursing students joined us as the elevator door opened and the five of us squeezed in together. A couple of them were pretty shaken up and kept reminding themselves that they would have to get used to not being able to save every patient. I almost wanted to say that something like that was not something you would ever get used to. That was the longest elevator ride of my life.

I tried to make my way to the far staircase without looking, but as I made a turn to begin my ascent there I saw you in your green jacket. I thought two of the nursing students had said you were in the stairwell, but you were not. A concrete column had somehow kept you from my field of vision the entire time while I was in my car. I do not know your name, but my heart hurt for you and your loved ones. Were things really so bad that taking your life was the only option? Did you reach out to someone for help? Is there something I could have done if I had gotten out of my car sooner? Just why?

I do not know when you took your life, but you were found today about 6:30 this morning. The emergency personnel closed down the entire parking structure and worked hard to keep you from view. Your passing served as a reminder of the initial event that got me back in school pursuing a career in medicine. I walked into my prerequisites knowing that I wanted to do something to make a difference and promised myself that I would never get less than an A; I promised myself I would learn as much as I could to have the knowledge to save as many lives as I was able to. Thus far, I have kept that promise and recently submitted my application to my school's nursing program.

I am not sure if I ever got to meet you, I am not sure if I knew your name, I am not sure what you were going through, I am not sure if you reached out to get help, and I am not sure if you were even a student at my school, but today you changed my life forever. No matter how busy I get, I promise you that I will stop and find time to ask people how they are doing more often. I might not be able to save everyone, but I can at least be someone know who cares enough to ask.

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5 Comment(s)

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in ED,Tele,Med surg, ADN,outpatient,homecare,LTC,Peds. Has 33 years experience. 45 Articles; 509 Posts

Thank you for a beautiful article !


23 Posts

Prayers to you as you make your journey into the world of nursing. Thanks for a great article.

ruby_jane, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing. Has 13 years experience. 3,141 Posts

Your compassion is going to make you an amazing nurse.


Has 1 years experience. 1 Post

As a nurse of 25 years and someone who made the same decision as "the man in a green jacket", (luckily my attempt failed), I can say that it is not an easy decision to make. Anyone in this frame of mind is not thinking in a rational manor, and nothing is as it seems. I had sought help prior to my attempt and continue to seek help to this day. I struggle daily. Being a nurse and helping others seems natural to me, but asking others for help does not (for me anyway). What I'm trying to get at is this, wanting to help everyone else often leaves your self care reserves empty and your views of the world jaded. Be aware of this careers personal stressors and take time to care for yourself as well as you care for others.


Has 1 years experience. 12 Posts

I can relate to your reply so much. I often say to people that I am blessed because "I get paid to love for a living." But I am the first person to forget about myself or ask for help. Sometimes I feel like I'm loving up on others through my knowledge and passion so that I don't have to take the time to love up on myself. It's exhausting battling my demons sometimes. Good for you for taking the time every day to work hard on yourself. I appreciate your candid reply.