I should also mention that I've read this essay before and in fact I've taught it to a couple classes as well. I was going to write about a Julian Barnes short story but after reading the first four pages of three of them I quit. They weren't bad, but I would never teach them to high school students. Julian, if you're reading this you're a fine writer and I'm sure a wonderful person. So after my Julian Barnes effort, I'm going with the Sampsell essay.
I'm jumping off the bridge by Kevin Sampsell
This essay starts with the author working at the bookstore when a guy comes in and tells him he's going to jump off the bridge a few blocks away. Sampsell tries to calm him down in between dealing with customers and eventually is successful and the guy goes off in an ambulance to get better. Shortly after the episode, Sampsell and his girlfriend break up and before long he is feeling suicidal as well. Not really from the break up but because of his life and it's the human condition and sometimes life is just really hard. This leads to a New Year's Eve sort of resolution.
Essay: 9 of 10
I really enjoy this essay. There are some lovely little bits of writing and when he writes about his son, it gets very real. The ending is perfect in that there isn't an epiphany or anything, just resolve to go on. It's not overdone. It's real. I also loved the beginning where the guy is telling Sampsell he wants to jump off a bridge but there's customers with questions and Sampsell has to help them first. Perfect.
Teachability: 10 of 10
For the past three years I've taught a personal narrative unit and this essay helps so much. Kids are sad and they don't really know why most of the time. They can relate to this and they enjoy reading it. This piece has led to some wonderful discussions and writing. Highly recommended.