I just got home (10:14pm) and the strangest thing happened. I'm still kind of unnerved by it. I parked my car and as I was getting out, noticed a man walking down the street looking a little sketchy. I locked the car and rather than get up on the sidewalk, I walked down toward my house in the street. "Hey, can I ask you a question?" he said. Still safely in the street I said, "sure."
"What would you do if you were feeling suicidal?" he asked. I answered, "I don't know. I've never felt suicidal. I probably wouldn't commit suicide though." I'll admit, it was a little flippant. "No kidding," he said, "but I mean, for real. What should I do? I have all these feelings and I'm afraid that if I call 9-1-1, they'll put me in jail for trying to kill someone. But I'm just feeling so crazy." At this point, I noticed he was shaking and his voice started to crack. "I don't know what to do. And I can't even call 9-1-1 because I have to charge my phone." He started to cry. "What should I do?"
Since I live diagonally across the street from the police station, I suggested he go talk to the police. They will probably get the paramedics to take him to a hospital. "But they'll put me in jail!" he sobbed. "No," I said, "they'll take you to the hospital where you can get the help you need."
"But I'm afraid. What do I say to them?" So, I told him to tell the police exactly what he told me. They are trained to help and will get him to the hospital. "But what if they don't?" by now, he was shaking like a leaf and had his arms wrapped around himself. While I didn't think he was a threat, I was still wary, so I continued to walk in the street and walked past my house. I walked with him to the corner and told him, "okay, the police station is right there. I'm going to stand here and watch to make sure you're alright."
"I don't know what to say," he told me. I looked at him, really looked, for the first time and thought how young he looked. Maybe not young as much as extremely vulnerable. "You've been really brave so far. You told me and I'm a stranger. You can tell them. They'll be able to help you more than I can." He doubled over and sobbed for a few minutes. I waited for him to gain control. He straightened up, nodded, and crossed the street into the police station. I turned and went home.
I hope I did the right thing. I hope they helped him and didn't just write him off as drunk or on drugs. He swore to me that he was not high on anything. Mostly I hope he's okay.