Chapter 27: Ryan (2)

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First, Allison had him take a quiz, only she called it a "Suicide Risk Assessment

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First, Allison had him take a quiz, only she called it a "Suicide Risk Assessment." The quiz had 4 questions, and the answers were pretty easy.

1. Have you ever thought about or attempted to kill yourself?

Correct answer: Not number 1 (Never) – because the pills had already revealed that Ryan had thought about it. So the correct answer was number 2 (It was a brief passing thought).

2. How often have you thought about killing yourself in the past year?

Correct answer: Again, Ryan had to go with number 2 (Rarely / 1 time).

3. Have you never told someone you were going to commit suicide, or that you might do it?

Correct answer: Number 1 (No).

4. How likely is it that you will attempt suicide someday?

Correct answer: Number 0 (Never).

Ryan slid the completed paper across the table to Allison.

"So Ryan," Allison said, looking at his answers, "you've only considered suicide the one time. When you took those pills from home."

"Yeah," Ryan said.

"And you didn't think about it ever again after that moment."

He didn't answer that one right away. "I left them in my bag. I knew they were there, but I didn't think about them. I didn't think about it like I was going to..." The words caught in his throat. "Kill myself."

"Okay." Allison put the paper aside. "Let's talk about your options here. If you should ever start to feel that sort of thing again. Instead of taking pills, what else could you do?"

There were the textbook answers: He could talk to a staff person. He could call her, or Dr. Burns. He could call a suicide hotline. Allison wrote all of these down on another form, including the relevant phone numbers.

"Now, what if you're not feeling immediately suicidal, but you're sad and you don't feel like talking to anyone. What could you do then?"

Another list. He could write in a journal. He could "take space." He could draw or listen to music. He could make himself some hot cocoa or warm milk. By the end of this list, Ryan was struggling to come up with anything. Mostly, when he felt sad, he laid down and stared at the wall. But that wasn't an answer he could give Allison.

"How about exercise?" Allison suggested. "Go for a run. Play some basketball. Is that something that might make you feel better?"

"Sure," he said, doubtful.

After an hour of this, he signed the contract and was pronounced Not Suicidal. Not officially, of course. "Tomorrow morning you have an appointment with Dr. Burns," Allison told him. "Tonight I need you to think about anything you might need that you don't have here, and after your appointment we can either go shopping or go to your house and pick it up. Basically, you have me all day tomorrow, so anyplace you'd like to go out to eat, anything you want to do... We can go to the movies if you want."

What if I don't want to do anything? Ryan wondered. Allison had ignored him this whole time, and only now that he was "suicidal" she was giving him more attention. That didn't seem right. She had a lot of other clients who probably needed her attention more than he did.

That night he stayed in his room reading the next book for English class. He fell asleep, having forgotten to brush his teeth, and woke up with the indent of the book cover in his cheek. Pete was moving around the room, getting ready for school.

"Sorry," Pete said. He didn't have his headphones on and looked strangely naked. "I tried to be quiet."

"It's okay." Ryan sat up.

"Where do you go to school?" Pete asked. Ryan told him, and then Ryan found out that Pete went to a school three towns away, which meant he had to leave an hour early to get there on time. At that point Ryan was ready to end this conversation, and then Pete said, "Hey, I heard your mom died, too."

Too? Ryan couldn't figure that out until Pete continued. "My mom had cancer. She died when I was eleven."


Ryan didn't know what to say. Pete gathered up his stuff and left the room without saying anything else.

He knew he should get up and have breakfast with everyone else, but it was still dark outside. It made him feel better that his roommate was like him, rather than like the other kids he had met. 

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