His hope had turned to dust.He had lost a good union job when his factory shut down. He refused to take welfare, despite a long and fruitless job search, and finally landed back at the old plant, earning far less on a production line that now paid him piece by piece.And so he was dead set on going to a lonely hilltop the next day with a rifle to take his life. That’s when I happened to call—he was one of the laid-off factory workers whose lives I had been reporting on, and I was checking in. He told me his plan, and I asked if we could meet in the morning. I was panicked. He said he hadn’t talked to any mental health workers, and I felt I had to do something.We met the next day at a dingy basement apartment, where I nodded at his young wife and several young children, and we headed out to the hilltop.Standing on the cold, windy field, we talked about his former factory mates: how they suffered and struggled and somehow got by. I had gotten to know nearly all of them in the year’s reporting on the lives of the workers at a small Michigan auto parts plant.