Suicide watch is worse than the death sentence.
The death sentence removes your freedom to life. You can watch your family and loved ones in a glass window and smile to them as your breathing slows and your eyes close.
The suicide watch removes all your freedoms and gives you your life. It forces you to breathe and open your eyes to watch your loved ones leave the glass.
I lived on suicide watch for seven days.
It was New Year’s Day and already getting dark, nearing the first night of the New Year.
My parents warmly yet feebly hugged me and walked out, leaving me to face my new home.
A cold white floor, with white walls and a bulletproof window gazing down on the streets of Toronto. A polished board served as a desk and a wooden chair was my only furniture, save the thin metal box that was to be my bed. A thin, rubbery mattress with a scratchy wool sheet was to be my only comfort.
The lights were to be kept on 24/7. I was stripped, searched, and marked. My hair was combed through, my birthmarks drawn, and my scars recorded. I was given a blue jumpsuit and a pair of papery socks and I was strapped with a red ID band. On my door was a file cautioning anyone that passed my cell. The orders were as follows:
1) No one is to enter vicinity without a security escort or specific permission.
2) No cutlery, rope or wire is to be within arms’ reach.
3) No personal questions are to be answered.
4) All communication must be authorized.
They sat outside my door all day and all night. They changed shifts every 10 hours. They would watch me eat off my plastic tray. They would watch me urinate. They watched me shower. They would watch me as I gazed out the bulletproof window to the snowy streets. I would fall asleep seeing their cold, unfeeling eyes and wake up to the same pair of staring eyes.
Every day they would come and interrogate me until I was dry and bitter. Often they broke me to tears and I would cry silently as I stared out the bulletproof window.
Every day my parents would come and visit me through the glass window. They’d smile and bring me books and clean underwear. I would turn coldly from them and return to my frosty, bulletproof window.
Then they’d leave the glass and go on about their day. They’d go out for a feature film and I would watch people stroll by through the bulletproof window.
Sometimes when I was angry and uncooperative, they would pull down the shades to my bulletproof window. In those times, I had nothing.
I often wondered if the people walking on the snowy streets knew that on one of the floors of one of the many buildings, I was watching them. Sometimes children would walk by and throw snowballs, only to be reprimanded by their parents. Businessmen would walk by angrily shouting on their phones. Women in their trench coats would scuttle by, trying to avoid the howling wind and gusting snow.
If they looked up they would see me, standing at the window in my blue jumpsuit, gazing at them with a sad, longing look in my eyes.
On the day of my release, I felt as if I drifted out of a dream. People shook my hand and smiled. My parents came and they hugged me and we walked out together.
As we left, we walked down the streets of Toronto. I caught snowflakes on my tongue. My father was on the phone with his coworker. My mother was shrouded in a fur coat and walked quickly to escape the cold. For a second, and only a second, I stopped playing in the snow and I turned around to face the looming buildings. On one of the floors, I recognized the white room with the white walls and the white floors. The shades to the bulletproof window were pulled up, but it was empty. There was no one standing at my window in a blue jumpsuit, gazing at me with a sad, longing look.