top of page


Dmitra Gideon

I am working as a middle school counselor when Netflix releases Thirteen Reasons Why. For weeks I deal with the aftermath. One mother calls when her child wraps the string from the window blinds around his neck. A boy comes to my office after emptying a bottle of ibuprofen into his wound of a body. I consider writing an open letter of hatred to the show’s creators. 



At a training for “suicide first aid,” we’re asked to talk the instructor down from a jump. She stands on a chair for dramatic effect. One by one, my peers approach her, shaky, fumbling. One by one they give up. Maybe it’s my lack of imagination, but the stakes don’t seem so high to me. 



The first time I consider suicide I am nine. I distinguish this from the first time I want to die, which comes much earlier. I sit in the kitchen, stray wicker from the chair poking holes in my legs, a knife pressed to my chest. It leaves a tiny circle mark on the skin. 



I have never told a child not to kill themselves. 



At a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, one of my clients tries to jump off the roof. His mother calls to scream blame into my ear, as if it wasn’t already festering there. In our session that day his insistence: “This is my body. Who is anyone to tell me what to do with it?” 



Death for me is a memory, the sensation of a rotten tooth finally pulled from an aching mouth. In this scenario, I am the tooth and also the mouth. 



When I am an EMT, we transport attempted suicides—that term we use, as if suicide is the patient. Some of my partners spend their time in the back of the rig lecturing. What about your family? How would your mother/wife/daughter feel? They give speeches about stiff upper lips and life never being as bad as you think it is. When I’m in the back I stay quiet. Because sometimes life is exactly as bad as you think it is. Not all of us will find reasons to live. Not all of us should be required to. 



For me, the fact of a forest is enough. I keep waking up. I keep pointing others toward the trees. 

Dmitra Gideon is a writer, educator, and community organizer living in Pittsburgh, PA. A graduate of the Chatham University MFA Program, they currently serve as Director of Youth-Centered Programming and Community Collaboration for Write Pittsburgh and Disability Justice Advocate for the Abolitionist Law Center. Their work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Cold Mountain Review, Pink Panther Magazine, and The Fourth River, among others. 

bottom of page