• Joy Slaughter

12.4 Dark Night of the Soul

Megan experienced her “dark night of the soul” looking out over the valley, now Nathan hits rock bottom. All of his many layers of pain—from his military experience, to his limb loss, to the suicide call he worked, to Megan leaving him—have become too much for him to handle.

He strongly considers suicide. We can see that he had prepared for the possibility of such a moment because he keeps his Beretta pistol ready.


“Nathan knelt by the bed, finality in, at hand. Just one action, considered with dispassionate separation. Walking to the diving platform, standing over the lane, bracing for the watery cold. It was only cold, merely cold. Disconcerting, though, that the depths remained unseen and unseeable.”

He compares death to jumping into a swimming pool. Water then is shown as the dialectic of life and death. He regained his health and vitality in the pool, but now he returns to the source, trying to see the end. He knows the shock of entry, when one first jumps into cold water, but he is uneasy about what happens after.


Or perhaps, just as the water gave him a new lease on life before, he is looking for another reason to continue, returning for another renewal.


“He stared, lost in the coldness, his eyes unfocused, looking past to the carpet. Just under the edge of the footboard lay her pink ponytail holder. He picked it up. Her favorite, and he must return it. An uncompleted obligation. A sigh of resignation, perhaps relief, and a strange disappointment. He returned the pistol to the case.”

Some of those who choose not to complete suicide do so because of some small obligation they remember. And yet the complicated state of Nathan’s feelings still comes through as he recognizes his disappointment at needing to do this for her.


At this point of the story, I wanted to show what people can do when they realize they are in the same state. Nathan hands his pistol over to Sam–removing the instruments of suicide can be an important part of a safety plan, whether that’s guns, knives, medications, etc. He then reaches out for help and calls Safe Call Now.


Safe Call Now is a mental health support hotline for first responders. Not only is it tailored to public safety and medical personnel, but it provides easy access to deeper levels of support than most hotlines. They help responders find the RIGHT help, experts who are familiar with the unique needs of responders.


Safe Call Now: 206-459-3020

https://www.safecallnowusa.org/ Code Green Campaign is another first responder mental health organization that helps spread awareness of the unique needs of responders. Code Green: www.codegreencampaign.org