As we all know, suicide is a major issue for men and boys. Some of you think that you're worthless. That no one cares about you. The following story will provide some of you with the sign that you are looking for.
16-year-old Walter opened his eyes to find himself floating in midair. Confused, he looked to the right and found that he was near the top of a tree. He looked ahead to see the roof of his neighbors' house. Then he looked down.
The boy was shocked to find a splitting image of himself, laying face down on the floor of his bedroom. His eyes widened and he frantically looked at his hands and pat his arms, face, and torso. He seemed to be himself. Before he could figure out what was happening, he heard a calm voice.
The teen quickly turned his head when the familiar voice said his name. To his surprise, it was his father. Walter's lips curved into a smile and he threw his arms around his "formerly" deceased father. With tears in his eyes, he hugged the man tightly, afraid that he'd wake up at any second.
"I missed you, too, Walt," the man chuckled, patting his son's back.
Walter reluctantly ended the hug and stared at his father.
"This is real? Am I dreaming?"
"Technically, yes to both. Right now, your soul is in between life and death. Now is the time to decide if you really want to die."
"Yes!" Walter said instantly. "I just wanna end it all."
"Yes, I've been watching over you all this time. I agree that things are tough, however, I disagree with suicide being the answer."
"If you've been watching me, you know why I want to die."
"Son, I'll make you a deal. There have been a few times where you've helped people out. In some cases, you helped them much more than you know. And you even had plans to help people in the future. I'm going to show you a few moments, and if I don't convince you that the world needs you, you can stay with me. If you do convince you, I want you to go back."
In the blink of Walter's eyes, they were standing in a tunnel with a concrete floor. Both ends led to the outside, with street lights visible at either end. The boy deduced that this was his local train station.
A man in jeans and a leather jacket began approaching them, seemingly not seeing them. Two men suddenly stepped into view behind the man. They ran over, and one tackled him to the ground. The victim struggled as the two men stomped and kicked him.
Walter attempted to run over to help, but his feet were frozen in place. He looked at his father, who casually shook his head.
The teen begrudgingly watched as the two thugs removed the man's jacket and took things out of his pants pockets. Then they ran away, leaving their victim on the ground.
"Why are you doing? Why didn't we help?!" Walter demanded.
"You'll see," the father said, still unfazed.
The victim struggled to his feet, holding onto the wall for support. He looked back and forth to find no witnesses. His attackers were long gone. When the man stood up, Walter could see that the front of his shirt and pants were very dirty. It was then that he looked vaguely familiar to the boy.
The man limped towards the end of the tunnel and turned left to walk up a flight of stairs. When he reached the platform, he walked up to a woman standing against a fence.
"Excuse me, miss. Can I have $2.25 for the train?"
Noting the dirty clothes and limp, the woman turned away from him without saying a word.
He walked up to a man and asked for money.
"Sir, I have no way to get home. All I need is $2.25. Could you..."
Clearly thinking he was drunk, that man told him off.
The man limped around asking several more people, and was ignored, cursed out, and turned down every time. Some people even backed away when they saw him coming.
It was then he approached a splitting image of Walter.
"Kid, can I please get $2.25 for a ride home?"
Walter reached into his pocket and retrieved some quarters. He then gave the man what he asked for.
"Bless you," the man said, rapidly nodding his head with a smile.
"I thought that guy was a bum," Walter told his father.
"So did everyone else. But you did help him out when no one else would. He, along with his wife and son, have you to thank for his return home." Walter was even more dumbfounded the story behind the man he paid money to. "Let's see another example."
Walter found himself in the living room of his house. Judging from the curtains and the furniture arrangements, this was a version of his house from a few years ago. His former girlfriend, Danica, was watching TV on the couch. Though Walter and his father were standing right in front of her, she paid them no attention.
A younger Walter walked in carrying two paper plates. He handed one to Danica and began eating the food that was on his own.
"Man, this is an awesome veggie burger," Danica complimented between bites.
"Thanks," Walter said with a smile. "I'm thinking of starting my own restaurant someday."
"What is it called?"
"I don't know. But I know it'll be a health restaurant. Somewhere for people who don't eat all that junk from fast food and pizza restaurants."
"That sounds really unique. And you already do make some good food. So you're on the right track."
The conversation ended there, and Walter's father began to speak.
"Most people would have forgotten or given up on a goal like that a few years later. But you only went further. You told everybody about the restaurant, started learning health food recipes, and even set a goal to put healthy restaurants on the level of fast food chains. If you're dead, who is going to make that a reality for you?"
"I'm not the only one with a health restaurant," Walter argued. "There's plenty of people that could still do that."
"But they're not you. They don't have your personal recipes. You never know; you could be the first to figure out how to break the glass ceiling for all of them."
Walter's lips twitched when he realized that he had nothing to say.
"Walter, you may not have cared in the heat of the moment, but there are people who care about you. People who are already mourning your death. Let's go see them."
Walter suddenly found himself in the hospital. To be precise, he found his body in a hospital bed. His mother was sitting beside him, holding his hand with a distressed look on her face.
The door opened, and in walked a boy who was Walter's age. He immediately went to Walter's side."
"Hey. Did he wake up yet?"
"Not yet, Nikolai," The woman said just above a whisper, with tears in her eyes.
Nikolai lowered his head and stared at his best friend.
The door opened again, and a girl walked in. Frowning at the body, she walked over to Nikolai.
"Hey," he said. "Thanks for coming."
"Who's that?" Walter asked his father. "I think I know her from somewhere."
"Her name is Alexa. She's from your Geometry class."
Before Walter could ask why she was there, Alexa began to speak.
"Is he going to be okay?"
"He should be," Walter's mother said. "The doctors said it could be hours before he wakes up."
Alexa nodded sadly and rubbed the boy's shoulder. Then she said to Nikolai: "I should have told him before. I had months to tell Walter I liked him, and now..." she couldn't finish her sentence. She just began sobbing.
Nikolai nodded in understanding, tears of his own falling down.
"Wait, that girl likes me?" Walter asked incredulously. The father nodded. "And my best friend knew this and never told me?" His father nodded again.
Walter turned his attention back to the door opening again. In walked a girl he knew from class.
"Hi, Nikolai," she said. She looked at Walter, and then at Nikolai. "I know we don't talk much, but I volunteer here and heard what happened. I just wanted to give my support."
Walter was stunned that someone he barely knew came to see him.
One by one, more people walked into the room. There was a couple whom he would babysit for, his favorite teacher, and a coworker he vented to a few times. They gathered around his bed and shared their grief.
"I have one more thing to show you," Walter's father announced. "This is how your death will affect them in the future."
Walter ended up back in his living room. It looked like it did when he left it, but something wasn't right: it was a mess. Empty bottles of liquor were scattered on the floor and covering the coffee table. Walter's mother was passed out on the couch.
Walter rushed over to try and wake her up, but his hands went right through her. He turned to his father.
"Is she alive?!"
"So far, yes." But 3 months from now, her drinking problem will end her life.
"She got this way because I'm dead?"
The father nodded solemnly.
Walter was allowed a moment to let that sink in before he found himself in a bedroom. The parents of the 7-year-old girl he used to babysit were sitting on the bed. The mother was holding a framed picture of the now-teenaged girl for them both to see. They were both crying.
"What's going on?" Walter asked. "Why are they crying over Mattie?"
"In this world, Mattie is dead. She died the same way you did."
"Why would she do that?!" Walter asked in a grief-stricken voice.
"When she was a kid, she loved when you would come over to babysit. She didn't have many other friends. You would play games with her, give her advice, and she felt like she could tell you anything. So when she eventually found out that you killed yourself, it hit her hard. She grew up to become depressed and... you know."
Walter looked at the parents, suddenly feeling a weight on his chest. He lowered his head in regret and despair. He stood there for nearly five minutes in silence.
"Dad, I have to go back," Walter said, turning to his father. "You were right; I can't put everyone through all that. Please send me back."
Walter's father smiled. "I love you, son. I'm proud of you for making that decision."
Before he knew it, Walter felt his body laying in bed. His eyes shot open to see eight people staring at him. They all looked at him in a mixture of surprise and happiness. His mother immediately hugged him. Nikolai shouted his name in joy. Alexa grinned widely at him.
All Walter could do was smile back.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, here is a list of U.S. and international hotlines: