"After that, the first person who found me was my teacher. It was 5 am, and I was resting in the breakroom with my jacket wrapped around me. I heard the door open, but I was too drowsy to care.
"When I opened my eyes at noon, I saw my teacher sitting at the table inside the room. He was reading Menninger's Man Against Himself, a book with a focus on suicide psychology.
"Sun filtered into the room. At the time, I had no idea what happened outside-I just thought that my teacher was acting strangely. He was the most experienced counsellor at our office. He was the one who taught me everything, so even though I was no longer under his tutelage, I still referred to him as my teacher."
From the man's voice, Chen Ge realized that he respected his teacher a lot.
"Your teacher told you everything? What were his thoughts?" Chen Ge was curious. He even wanted to become friends with the Red Specter, and for that, he needed to understand his personality and his wishes. Only then would the man willingly work for him.
"He didn't tell me anything related to the news-he only asked me one question." The man looked at the darkened night. "If one day, he was standing at the edge of the building, what would I do to talk him off the ledge?"
"I'd never considered that question before. In my eyes, my teacher was a very powerful person in terms of his faith. This scenario would never happen in my mind, but I still shared my real thoughts with him. If that day really did happen, I would use everything that he had taught me on him and try my best to save him. If I failed, then I would choose to respect his decision.
"I had never thought how saintly my job was; I just knew how important it was. It was no different from the doctors in an emergency room. I give it my all to save the patients, but similarly, I would respect their wishes."
As the man spoke, his voice lowered.
"After he heard me say that, he smiled satisfactorily. Just like an old friend, he sat next to me and told me one thing.
"He said that I was a good student, the student he was most proud of in fact, but I was not a qualified suicide prevention hotline operator.
"My teacher saw the imbalance in my emotions, so he told me to go for a walk to clear my mind. A suicide prevention hotline operator is a very unique job. Aside from the prank calls, everyone would receive around twenty mildly-dangerous calls and one to five emergency calls every night. With the continuous calls, the operator themselves would be affected. They would cry on the phone with the callers. Whenever that happened, you had to tell yourself to calm down and try to detach yourself from the situation and help them from an outsider's perspective.
"A person's body is like a balloon filled with water. Good and bad emotions fill up the balloon. If one can't make the adjustments, when the balloon bursts, that is when a person faces a mental breakdown.
"As a suicide prevention hotline operator, the brain is soaked in tears and pain every night. Most leave the job after a certain period of time, so initially, I didn't get what my teacher was trying to say.
"When I tried to ask for clarification, my teacher patted my shoulders and left, but he left behind the book that he was reading. Later, after I found out that my phone conversation had been released online and became the first operator that convinced my caller to kill themselves, many people came at me with horrible words. However, at the time, I was very calm. No matter what others said, it had nothing to do with me-I only cared about right or wrong.
"From a certain perspective, I was a very dumb person. I would cry due to the callers' stories and would talk to these strangers until dawn. I would cry with them and even laugh with them. I understood their pain. I never saw myself as a savior; I merely treated them as my friends."
The man's eyes were clouded when he said those things, but soon, they were replaced by red, and blood leaked out from his skin. "Before that ended, something else happened.
"When you stop a person hellbent on dying, even if you're successful one time, they might use a more drastic method next time.
"To prevent that from happening, we occasionally allow them to try it within an acceptable range. For example, if there was an ambulance, safety cushion, and a relatively-small building, we would not forcibly pull one away from the edge.
"I know this might be hard to stomach, but think of it from a different perspective-empathy is a hard to practice effort. Even biological parents have a hard time doing that. Prevention that is too harsh will only need to a negative effect-that is something that shows that you do not understand the person's pain.
"Allowing them to try is a type of respect, a respect that they can feel for real."
Hearing that, Chen Ge had a bad feeling. "Have you really done that before?"
"During one of our missions, I did something similar. Actually, it is not as scary as you think. We are merely allowing it within a controlled situation. To give you another example, one of my callers wanted to die from a sleeping pills overdose. His emotions were very unstable, and we were unable to communicate. At the time, I tried to negotiate with the police and found sleeping pills with a very low dosage for him to try. After experiencing death once, he had a big change and started to love life again.
"I have many successful results, but these methods appear like it has violated our responsibility. After the recording was exposed, these methods attracted a lot of criticism. I was trying my best to save people, but people pinned me as a murderer.
"I started to think. My teacher came to talk to me, and many friends consoled me. However, the key was not me but whether it was right or wrong."
The man did not look much older than Chen Ge, but he sounded far more worldly than Chen Ge. He looked at the dark night and was silent for a long time. The expression on his face turned ugly, but it slowly returned to normal before he smiled a faithless smile.
"Perhaps I am not a qualified suicide prevention hotline operator, but those that I once helped really did treat me as the last friend that they could trust at the end of their lives." The man's shirt was completely dyed red, and the tattoo on his face kept changing. "This is something I understood after my death-there was so much hope that was placed on me."