Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Story From York Minster


Recently the Prof and I were caught up in a mega traffic jam on the way back from the beach. The A55 (the main duel carriageway serving North Wales) was closed both ways as the police dealt with a suicidal woman who was threatening to jump from a bridge, and in soaring temperatures we, like a few thousand others sat in our cars waiting for the roads to clear.
http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/see-a55-drivers-passing-time-13133667
Twitter abounded with pithy and then just plain rude complaints about just how selfish the woman involved was, and frustrated in our hot car, I remembered a time when I was on the other side of such an incident!
Then, I worked in York as a junior staff nurse in the city's flagship psychiatric hospital, Bootham Park and on one sunny afternoon, I remember being asked to help a colleague after the patient she had been admitting unexpectedly ran from our ward seconds after being brought in as a voluntary patient.
We had no idea of what could be going on in the guy's mind, all we knew that he was said to be suffering from anxiety, but as he raced down the long drive towards the city centre the female nurse and I both felt that cold dread of something not quite right.
Generally, nurses were expected to retrieve absconding patients only within the hospital grounds, leaving the police to find any in the community, but then without hesitation we both chased the man as he turned left out of the hospital gates and down Petergate where we lost him in the tourist crowds.

What seemed like an age later, we were joined by a policeman who had just heard that a colleague of his had approached a " suspicious" man in York Minster who had suddenly bolted up onto the South Transept roof, where he, without the slightest of hesitations, had thrown himself off.

Now ,if you are ever "inconvenienced" by such events like the one The Prof and I found ourselves in a couple of weeks ago and find yourself less than sympathetic to the person sat on that motorway bridge -spare a thought for the emergency personnel  who are trying their best to deal with the situation.
Even though that nurse and I had not got any real notion of what was going on with that patient, the cold, paralysing fear that he had taken his life whilst under our " care" was a feeling, we will never ever forget and I know that the policeman we met up with felt exactly the same.


As it turned out, the patient actually survived his fall but sustained life changing spinal injuries as a result of it and I was part of the team that went to assess him again as he was being rehabilitated in his wheelchair. Strange as it may seem, he had absolutely no idea why he had jumped from the roof in the first place!



44 comments:

  1. Sigh it is so easy to be caught up in one's own frustration these days. Back in March while diving home from Auckland (about 9 hours) the traffic ground to a halt and a few minutes later a car coming back the other way was letting us all know that a major accident had closed the road ahead. We ha to turn back for a half hours drive and go home the long way, adding two hours to our journey. /my first reaction was to be pissed off, but then it occurred to me how lucky we were not to have been caught up in the accident, and how terrible it was for the people who were in it and their loved ones. Compared to that, a more scenic drive home was nothing.

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    1. There is a darkside to human nature.....i remember as an 18 watching a guy stand on the roof of the local,woolworths...obviously mentally ill.
      Several local teens were shouting " jump jump" at him

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  2. I had never thought of it through the point of view of the police, emergency crews and medical personnel. Not an easy day of anyone.

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    1. And only more common nowadays

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  3. I was all ready to make a sarcastic comment about suicidal people inconveniencing so many people, but then I realised my ABI Brother has no memory of his suicide attempt, which resulted in him being ABI. I imagine he caused great traffic disruption as he rode his bicycle straight out into traffic on a major highway. Ok, while I am sure John knows, for some who don't know, Acquired Brain Injury.

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    1. There is a true story of a Chinese commuter who was so sick at the wait for a local suicide jumper to be talked down that he took drastic measures and threw the suicidal man from the bridge himself ( and into a safety blow up mat)

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  4. I've known, and known of, too many people, young people, who committed suicide in a variety of ways. To reach that point of desperation and then resolve must have been exhausting and awful for them. For the families and friends left behind, it is also life changing. Just attend a funeral of a young person who committed suicide, and you'll never take it lightly again. I hope the incident on the bridge turned out positively. -Jenn

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    1. I think it did...several bridges in the Uk aalso have phones on them so that suicidal people meay be able to ring for help

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  5. As a society, are so caught up in ourselves, we sometimes don’t see the bigger picture. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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  6. I always think about the emergency services personnel who have to deal with these situations.
    My cousin was a Police Officer and about thirty years ago he was called to a man threatening to jump from a bridge. The man was eventually 'talked down' but not until my cousin had received a kick to his head, which damaged his neck/spine so badly that he was invalided out of the career he loved.
    Ever since then has had to live in an adapted house, has very little use of his hands or legs, gets about very slowly indoors using a walking frame, but needs a motorised wheelchair for outside the house.
    He has had to watch his children grow up without being able to play with them, suffered near constant pain, had many, many surgeries, not had the life with his wife and family that he so richly deserved, all because of one selfish individual.
    I know people will say I'm horrible calling the attempted 'jumper' selfish, but I have had to watch someone I love very much suffer for all those years through absolutely no fault of his own and to finish it all off, the suicidal man killed himself three weeks later anyway!
    I have asked my cousin whether he ever wishes he'd just let the man jump and even after everything he's been through he always answers "No"!
    All of us who are his family however, wish that he had.

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    1. Another perspective indeed!

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  7. We knew someone who committed suicide and the one fact that shines through all the selfish thoughts of how inconvenient it might have been for us or other people, was what pain he was in.
    This was a man with a loving wife and children. He was actually a doctor. But he was in constant mental pain and it just became too much. Suicide is the most heartbreaking of deaths, for those left behind .. the constant thinking of What could we have done better, what if and why ... suicide in my mind is just another illness that the patient finally dies of ..

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    1. I agree with you, a point well made

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  8. A very compelling story, John. Good reminders that we can never see the whole story. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. When I used to commute into London, it was not uncommon for a whole tube line to be suspended because of "a person under a train". Sighs, curses and expressions of disgust, rippled through the coach as rush hour commuters re-calibrated their journeys.

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    1. I have groaned along side them too...it is easy to do so when the death is faceless

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  10. I can't imagine what first responders go through in a situation like that. They are as much a victim of the situation as the person going through that personal trauma is. I'm sure not too many of us give a thought to those caring men and women who try to help.

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  11. Humans tend to lose sight of comon humanity when driving. It amazes me every time traffic is backed up after an accident, generally caused by someone tailgating or cutting off another driver, once clear of the bottleneck the drivers celebrate by displaying the exact behavior that caused the problem in the first place. I think there is something about the combined comfort, isolation and mobility of cars that makes us feel particularly entitled when behind the wheel.

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    1. Hasnt there been some research about this? Thats why road rage occurs? People safe in their own bubble ....a bit like the internet at home?

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  12. What a sad story. I think we all at times get so transfixed by our own lives and spare little thought for others in need. I am afraid it is human nature - not all of course. In my opinion psychiatry is the least understood (and certainly least funded) area. I have every admiration for all the medical teams and personnel who work in this field.

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  13. I feel so, so sorry for the poor souls who feel so desperate that they can't see any other way out other than ending their lives. God only knows what state of mind they must be in to attempt suicide. But saying that, what about the other people that are indirectly involved in their decision, e.g. the train driver if someone was to through themselves under a train, the car driver when someone throws themselves off a bridge. How on earth do they cope with the trauma they have witnessed or been forced, through no fault of their own, to be involved with? This makes me consider the suicidal person selfish, but I suppose if the individual is in such a state they would not be thinking rationally or considering other people.

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    1. The samaritans now train up rail staff to support drivers who have suffered a fatality...

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  14. When one takes the time to show compassion for individuals who suffer with any type of mental illness, one will see that they are not really separated that far from each other.

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  15. My heart goes out to anyone involved in with a suicide or attempted suicide, but I find it especially tragic when people refuse to sympathise with someone that feels, for whatever reason, the only solution for them is suicide. May it never be someone they care about on that bridge.

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  16. A sobering tale indeed. Some people can be very cruel. Anyone who threatens suicide is in a perilous state and deserves compassion not jeering disregard.

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  17. And it's unfortunate in these times it seems to be a everyday- thing somewhere in the world.

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    1. In the past suicide was a sin against god! At least that seems a thing of the past!

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  18. That is a great perspective and definitely food for thought really. Some of these people may be going through so much that they get into a state of numbness and hopelessness. Good job to to the health care providers out there, who go through a lot themselves!

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    1. We seem to have gotten out of the habit of caring for each other..well the politicians have

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  19. Whenever I see or hear the words York Minster I'm reminded of the night I saw a ball of blue light move silently over the car I was driving somewhere in Lancashire. I checked my watch. It was after 2 am.

    The next morning I was taken aback when I heard that York Minster had been struck by lightning and set on fire during the night. I'm not saying there's a connection between what I saw and events in York, but it did give me pause for thought.

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    1. You never know Gwil , you never know

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  20. The brain is a miraculous, mysterious and sometimes dangerous organ ...

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  21. Desperate people do desperate things. It takes an enormous amount of courage to kill yourself; especially when the methods are so grisly.

    I've always supported euthanasia, and believe the state should also help facilitate pain-free suicide. Surely that's better than horrific diy jobs.

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  22. I can speak from the heart as the mother of a wonderful, funny, much loved daughter who jumped from a motorway bridge to her death 5 years ago next month. I am still going through the process of coming to terms with how quickly she spiralled down into the dark despair from where we just couldn't convince her that we could help her to get back her self confidence and put her concerns into perspective. I do often think of those who witnessed the event and those who were inconvenienced by the road closure but they must never think of that this couldn't happen to them. My daughter had some health and life worries which accumulated into big black clouds that she just could not see past. We as her parents, and all her friends had very little idea that she was in such a desperate frame of mind until it was too late to help her. Those who were inconvenienced that day in the traffic hold up won't now remember much about it but her dad and I have to live every day without our lovely girl.

    I just hope nothing like this ever touches your families as it has ours.

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    1. Oh my ... how your hearts must ache, Beverley. I'm so sorry you lost your girl. Our adult daughter has struggled with depression since her early teens, and it is such a terrible illness - and it can touch anyone at any time. Wishing you peace and strength.

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  23. Again it is the comments and this comment in particular that touches the heart... I am sorry if this blog entry was painful for you to read. I hope in some small way it makes people think about the people and not the event of such experiences
    Thank you for being so brave Beverly
    And i echo your wish that no one sufferes as your daughter and your family has suffered

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  24. Ps . Have you had much help with dealing with this beverly?

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  25. I was talking to a friend today who lost a relative from suicide off the London Bridge. They were saying how the distress and nightmares had returned with the tragedy that occurred there with the recent massacre..which hit doubley hard as we all grieved for those caught up in that terror including the loss of two Aussies so far from home.
    I hear the same sadness in Beverly's account of losing her daughter..the pain of losing a loved one in such circumstances is just under the surface for my friend every day. Even more reason for more kindness to be shared with everyone we meet..you just never know if a little kindness will make a difference to someones day.

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  26. Thanks for the comments. No I didn't seek professional help for myself but it soon became very clear to me that my husband was in need of more help than I could give him. So I did get our doctor on the case and they very quickly flagged us up to the elderly mental health team who were excellent for him. He had 1 to 1 counselling at home foe quite a few weeks and although I sat in on some of it I felt it wasn't really what I needed. I just talked to friends of mine who had known my daughter and friends of hers too and that helped me. Hubby fought it and with the medication and our ability to be down to earth northern folks we are now just very sad that we didn't get more help for d/d sooner.


    I know our son was very angry with life for quite a time and he has admitted that he did go for some counselling but hasn' said whether he found it epful or not.


    When I hear about the London and Manchester atrocities I just know that there are mms and as al over the word go throught this grief ans so we are making the best of what time we have left in this world together.

    I can be perfectly ok and not think about her until a song comes on the radio or an article in a magazine gives me a jolt and then it is at the forefront of my mind all day.

    please don't feel that we need to go on at length an this thread. I actually get lots of enjoyment out of reading this and other funny blogs. Keep on with the daily posts please and enjoy your retirement when it comes.

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  27. What a lot of spelling mistakes there are in my post above, note to self, "please proof read before pressing the publish button!"

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