Posted by: medicblog999 | March 31, 2009

Suicide

sad_man

Im afraid you are going to have to bear with me on this one. I really am not sure how to organise my thoughts on this. All I know is that I have a good few thoughts milling through my head after a recent job and I figured, whats the point of having a blog if I dont share them with you all!

So excuse me if this really does come out like a rambling mess, I dont think I have a point to make, just some observations to share.

I attended a job recently whereby a young lady had committed suicide. She was staying with her parents at the time and it was her unfortunate mother who found her hanging  in her room when she came home from work. She had cut her down before she phoned 999 and even though we arrived within 4 minutes from the call being connected, it was very obvious that there was nothing we could do to try and bring her daughter back.

Its strange that I have only recently wrote about the impact of the death of a child (even as an adult) has on a parent, and yet, here I am again dealing with another grieving parent, except this time its even worse. 

There was no apparent warning of any suicidal thoughts. No history of psychiatric illness, or recent upset even. Her mum told me that they had shared a meal last night and had discussed her recent promotion at work, everything seemed fine. There was no warning what so ever, that her daughter may have had any intention to end her life, yet less than 24 hours later, she had to witness a sight that will never, ever leave her thoughts.

I dealt with the scene, I provided comfort and support as best as I could (im sure this made no difference at all), I liased with the police on scene and informed all the relevant parties, such as the the patients GP and our control, of the outcome of the patients last act.

I left the house and got on with my day.

Next job was to a minor abdo pain, then onto an epistaxis (nosebleed), then a minor RTC. All in all another 9 jobs during the night shift. Just another shift. Never another thought given to the hanging 11 hours earlier……until I was on my way home.

I am a bit soft lump at times. I cry at films, and dont even get me started on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. The reason for this is that whenever I am watching something sad or traumatic, or if I deal with something tough at work, I always tend to put myself in their situation. I stupidly ask myself “what would I have felt like if it was me?”, “What must that be like?”

In this case:

“What would it be like if I came in and saw one of my loved ones hanging?”

“What must it be like knowning that as you have been going through your day at work,  someone you love dearly is hanging at home”

“How gulity would I feel, if I hadnt noticed that someone important to me was going through such a terrible time, that their only escape was to kill themselves”

In the three questions above,I intially asked about what it would be like if I saw my child….., but it was so painful to even see that sentance that I dont like it in print, sounds daft I know but…

I was driving home thinking all of these things when I suddenly started to tear up, which then made me question why I was crying.

Is it because I was so touched by the trauma and suffering that I had witnessed earlier in the shift, both from the mother and her daughter? Or was it because i was transferring the emotions of the day onto my own life and going through my own fears and imagining the horror of it in relation to my own family?

Either way, it almost felt wrong that I was getting so upset by it. It felt like I was stealing someone elses grief. Surely the most appropriate and correct response would be to have a quiet moment of reflection and hope that the family are able to support one another and get through this truly horrendous time, hope that the daughter is now at peace.

I was then caught with other feelings, not anger, but dismay that someone can put their family though so much suffering. I have dealt with a good deal of suicides so far in my career, from jumpers, hangings, overdoses, shootings, lying in front of trains and driving at speed into walls. All of which have finally ended the suffering and turmoil of the person involved but have also left scars on those that have to find them.

I have never had suicidal thoughts, I cannot, and do not want to imagine what that must be like to have so little to live for that there is only one option left. It must be a terrible place to be, hell on earth.

I have so many thoughts going around my head. I dont know whay this one has affected me so much. I know that it all goes down as experience, it will end up as another story shared with new colleagues, but it will also be another one stored away, but never forgotten. The house where it happened is on my way home from work, and I will pass it for the rest of my working career.

I am not religious, I dont believe in a god or a heaven or hell. I do believe in an afterlife of sorts, I believe in the spirit world (I have witnessed too many things for me to disbelieve in spirits) but sometimes I wish I did have faith. I envy the comfort that some people gain from having a faith, but on the other hand, isnt suicide a sin? If I was religious would I also have to deal with the thought that my patient who hung herself to escape the turmoil she had when alive is now in hell?

As I said at the beginning, this has probably come out as a ramble. I have not edited or re-read this,I want it to be as it came out of my head and on to the keyboard, so I apologise for any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.

Thank you for reading and I hope I havent depressed you too much.


Responses

  1. Thank you. As always, sharing any job is important, if it is important to the one who is sharing. And this is no different. We all get affected in one way or another by every job we do. It is as if we are dipping in and out of other people’s lives, feeling what they feel, if only for a moment, in a way that no other professional in any other job can quite comprehend.

  2. Rough times Mate.

    Everyone has a story of the one that hit us the most, your rambling post shows how scattered your emotions are on this topic.
    Suicide never made sense to me either. How someone could be so selfish, so completely out of touch with what suicide does to those left behind, and think it is a “solution.”

    I think less about what it would feel like to find someone who has taken their own life and instead feel sorry that they thought this was the better way.

    All the grief that comes after the death is never seen by those who consider it, even when it happens to someone else.

    As far as their spiritual beliefs go, who knows.

  3. That was the finest bit of rambling i’ve read in a long time, the beauty of the blog is it’s yours, let it rip, if people don’t like it, well, that’s okay.

    Not trying to steal your thunder but what you wrote rings frighteningy true to my own experiences. The camradarie at work makes our experiences bearable, the long ride home, alone with our thoughts is the tough part. I often wonder how the police deal with these things, they leave the same scene, alone in their cars with a gun on their hip.

    Had a young girl hang herself over here last week. I’ve got to say, hangings are the worst call for me. I once responded to a friens and brother firefighters house to find my friends brother hanging in a bedroom closet. never got over that one.

    If I keep going I’ll ramble more than you, and that’s just not right, but that’s what blogs are for.

    Extreme Makeover? I did a post centered around that show a few months back. Something about that show gets you right there.

    I suppose we must carry on.

  4. Im glad you rambled, and left your thoughts pure.

    Moving writing.

  5. “I dont know whay this one has affected me so much.”

    … because you are human, mate.

    Best Wishes

    Blippie

  6. One of the toughest one’s to deal with Mark, and as Blippie says your human and if we hide our Humanity we just become cold and cynical.

    Regards,

    Eamonn

  7. The only successful suicide I attended was a young hispanic woman who killed herself at night while her husband was at work and another family member or friend had her small children. I just didnt understand the care she took to hang herself with red ribbon and neatly fold the excess and place it in her pocket along with some of her children’s small toys.

  8. Suicide is hard on everyone involved. It bothers you because as much as we would like to think we are hardened professionals, we are also human, and a lost life is just that, a lost life. We are trained to save them, and in these situations, there isn’t anything we can do but comfort those left behind.
    I’m glad you’ve never had suicidal thoughts. For someone who has, in the darkest parts of ones life, its not something that could easily be explained to another. But being angry at someone who has committed suicide isn’t fair to their memory, to their life. The family may not see it that way, leaving so much hurt & so many questions behind. They have to learn to accept what has happened and remember the person for who they were.
    We all have the calls that we can’t seem to shake. His mother found him, he wasn’t even 21 . So much life left to live. I can still see his face when I close my eyes.

  9. [...] Thank you for all your wonderful comments on the ‘Suicide’ post I put up a little while ago, it really was a pleasure to read them all. Thanks for your [...]

  10. [...] apologizes for rambling in Suicide. I just want to thank him for sharing such a personal and gut-wrenching story; a story that raises [...]

  11. [...] an EMS blogger friend over at Medic999 wrote an outstanding piece last month on his struggles coping with a recent call. I have great admiration for writers who are willing to put themselves out there in very real [...]

  12. [...] here to read the original post if you missed it, then here for Steves [...]

  13. [...] I have a selection of my favourite posts in the tab at the top of this page, so if you have time, go and have a look. This is my favourite one, its a bit of a tough read but im proud of my ramblings in the post ‘Suicide’ [...]

  14. Suicide is the culmination of profoud depression or of some other mental issues. It has nothing to do with selfishness. It stems from a disease in the brain.

  15. [...] This is Suicide. [...]

  16. Just read your piece from Mosquito Hill's handover. What gets me about suicides is just how much they must really hate those who care about them. Not care as in “Social services – get them dressed, wipe bum” etc but more “Hey, how are you doing neighbour?”.

  17. Just read your piece from Mosquito Hill's handover. What gets me about suicides is just how much they must really hate those who care about them. Not care as in “Social services – get them dressed, wipe bum” etc but more “Hey, how are you doing neighbour?”.

  18. I just read this today, a little over a year after you wrote it I do believe. I have to tell you that I am a man of devout faith. I am actually a pastor and chaplain to my firefighters/rescue emt’s. In regards to one of your last paragraphs. You stated something to the sorts of you didn’t believe in Heaven or Hell but an afterlife. You commented earlier than that about you hope the young lady found peace. Heaven equals peace. That is just the deep down in our spirit realization of who our creator is whether we acknowledge him or not. I don’t want you to think I’m coming down on you for this because that is not my intentions. I wanted to put another opinion out their for you to consider. I know you say you sometimes would love to have faith but that would mean this young one would go to hell because suicide is sin. Lets look at this carefully. I think that suicide is very selfish because its not just yourself that has to deal with your actions but everyone…..including you and other first responders. You aren’t by yourself. That said, I am of the conclusion (through scripture of course) that:
    #1- We have no idea how God works in situations like this.
    #2-There is no telling what feelings or thoughts of remorse went through that young ladies mind while in the act…..the scriptures tell us that he knows our thoughts as well, not just our actions.
    #3- We will ultimately never know the eternal destiny of this young woman until we ourselves get their.
    There IS a God and we will give an account for our lives one day when we stand judgement before his holiness. There is salvation in Jesus Christ for those who accept him. It doesn’t take all of the brains in the world to accept faith but to accept willingly that there is forgiveness. If you want to reference that you will find it in 2 Corintians chapter 3.
    I didn’t write this to preach at you but to shed awareness. I hope I wasn’t too forward with all of this as well. I am sure that the Lord’s heart broke when your patient made that decision, BUT He is the one who decides…..I trust in his judgement because it’s a lot better than my finite mind will ever comprehend. I will be in prayer for you and everyone else associated in this tragedy.

    • Hi there Fire Pastor.

      Thank you very much for your comment. It has certainly made me think a little.

      I have moved this blog, to a new home, where it has been since last November. All of my archived posts can also be read there.

      Your comment was so thought provoking, I have put up a post about it just now. You can read it at :

      http://999medic.com/2010/06/11/a-comment-to-make-me-think/

      Thanks again!

  19. Dear Caregiving Friend,
    Of all the calls over the years, suicides are the worst. They have an uncanny ability to haunt us. As you allude to, imagining the victim’s torment at the time of the act is deeply unsettling. It shakes us to the very core. I’ve seen too many of them for one career, too. Please know of my sympathy in this case for the girl, her mom & for you. The story is just plain sad. We need to talk about these kinds of things & process our grief over them, otherwise it can harm us.

    The personal sadness you relate about this case is 100% understandable, legitimate, expected & normal. So are your tears, they reveal your compassion.

    I respect your atheist position. However, like Fire Pastor, I respectfully ask if I may offer some other insights for you to consider. Not aiming to foist them upon you or to “preach” but simply letting you know how I feel & what comes to my mind after reading your story.

    Primarily, I’d like to challenge the notion that all poor souls who commit suicide automatically wind up in Hell. We simply don’t (cannot) know the state of somone’s mind much less the state of their soul (spirit) at the time of the act. But God knows. And He is much more merciful to all of His created beings than what we can ever begin to imagine. He is infinitely more merciful than we can be with ourselves or with each other. Thankfully!

    So, I respectfully disagree that if you were religious that you would also have to deal with the thought that your suicide patient is now in Hell. Only if you were very judgmental & only if you were to presume to know what God knows. We simply don’t (can’t) know. It’s between them & God.

    Is suicide wrong? Is suicide a sin? Is suicide fair? Is suicide a good thing or a bad thing? We all have a free will & as you point out quite well, we are all dismayed “that someone can put their family through so much suffering” & leave “scars on those that have to find them”. Suicide is a horrible human event.

    Secondly, if I may please, I’d like to challenge the supposition that suicide ends “the suffering and turmoil of the person involved”. It may but it may not – - we don’t know. But with all due respect, it’s hard to imagine how committing suicide could make one’s spirit (soul) happy. We just don’t know.

    My friend, you say that you are not religious, that you don’t believe in a god or a heaven or hell.

    But you do believe in an afterlife of sorts, you believe in the spirit world & have witnessed too many things for you to disbelieve in spirits. You also say that you wish you had faith & that you envy the comfort that some people gain from having a faith. These may all be indications that God is asking you to take another look. Think about it, bro.

    Thanks for sharing your story, it is an honor to share your grief. Take care & be safe out there ….

    Your Caregiving Friend,
    Roger


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