It was more than 40 years ago; New Year’s Eve, 1976 to be exact, that I pulled a night shift as a volunteer operator with the Underground Switchboard. I got a call from a middle-aged man talking suicide.
Contrary to what you may have seen on TV, Hollywood movies or even what’s stated in the Underground Switchboard Operator’s Guide, we were actually unable and/or unauthorized to trace such a telephone call.
As I spoke quietly with him he seemed from the first to be somewhat groggy. He spoke in a depressed, indifferent monotone and, as he did, his voice gradually lowered in volume, trailing off until at last he just stopped speaking altogether and the line went dead.
It wasn’t a hang-up – the line just went dead.
I am a Vietnam War veteran and from time to time I’m asked if I’m proud to be an American. The answer is an emphatic “NO!” Although born and raised here I’m actually ashamed to be a United States citizen. Every few seconds someone is murdered in this country. Every few seconds someone commits suicide. In my heart-of-hearts I know we can be so much better.