People attempt suicide for one of two reasons: the pain of living is greater than the fear of death; or as a cry for help to deal with life that seems beyond control.

Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend. I could not understand most of it, but I did catch that they would not talk on the phone. So even though I had just driven 3 ½ hours home from my daughter’s family, I headed out again at 6pm for another 2-hour drive.

I was not able to connect with my friend in a way that would lead to some resolution. Being told to leave I went to talk with the spouse. While we were both outside the person apparently swallowed all the remaining medication, and then told us so.

I phoned the Poison Information Centre to find out if we should take action or wait it out. The contact took the information and then did some calculations. Their advice was that respiratory reaction could occur, and so we should consider it an emergency. The spouse dialed 9-1-1, which was available where we were.

Cast CaresThe ambulance soon arrived and I advised them the person would likely not be co-operative and then introduced them to the spouse.

The EMS responders were very professional and skilled, and managed to achieve a rapport, and thus co-operation, before the police arrived. (In our province when a person appears to have attempted suicide the police become involved under The Mental Health Act). When both the spouse and I had given our statements I explained to the spouse that under the law treatment can now be given even if the patient does not give permission if the police handle it in a certain way.

The spouse got ready and headed for the hospital. It was best for me to head home, and while that seems odd, I know, there was valid reason for that which I choose not to disclose. The spouse wished that to happen.

Anyway, today I start a string of night shifts that include overtime and I know that I will become unavailable for a time – how long I cannot say.

All this seems terrible, and at a certain level it is. I had great difficulty (and not entirely successfully) from sobbing my eyes out. I did stay together enough to do what needed to be done. And I kept saying to the person that they are valued by others, that others would be very upset if death came prematurely, and that no one would benefit from their sudden departure. There is more that can be said and done when in conversation with a person who is, or appears to be, suicidal. Under the circumstances that was all that I could do, and that is the important part I think.

So the person is now in a setting where professional help is available.

And I am at home getting ready for work, a contract which could be very stressful if conflict arises between parties.

GodInControlIt flashed through my mind how useless I was in preventing this, but that lasted only a moment. As I said to the spouse, God doesn’t make mistakes. This happened in a very tight window when I could actually be present. I knew what to do and could be a support to the spouse and friend.

And on a personal level, a good dose of helplessness is good for the soul (literally, no exaggeration). I have certain training and skills, but only God can save and heal. Since my wife stayed with our daughter and family to await the birth of our new Grandchild, I have only Paraclete to debrief with and get through the emotional impact of all this.

So this is just a long share to offer the message that life can be tough, and sometimes our ability to make it better is limited.

But God knows. God acts. God cares more than my tears. It is never what I do, but what I let God do through me and with me, and as I always add, in spite of me.

Now I just wait…

Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention