Friday, 22 August 2014

Do Your Best


 I've just read two blog posts that discuss aspects of suicide. The act and the intention of the the act. Both made me think.
And both were incredibly sad in their own way.
My professional life has been touched by suicide many times
It has also been cushioned by professional distance, support, supervision, and an acceptance that all one can do at the suicide " front line" is your best.
Your best to read the signs that suicide may occur.
Your best to prevent the act,
And your best to treat the illness that may be clouding the intention .
" Do your best"
If you believe the phrase....it's the only sure way of dealing with suicide without driving yourself at worst potty or at best clinically ineffective.

I spoke to someone the other night who was contemplating suicide
It was a serious conversation, by a gentle and vulnerable person and was one that I tried so hard to facilitate a positive outcome from.
I will never know if I helped
That 35 minute conversation has lingered long in my mind all week.
I think I did my best

I hope I did.




54 comments:

  1. I have no doubt that you did do your best John. With your long nursing experience behind you and your innate kindness, that thirty five minute conversation may have been just what the other person needed to reassess their position and think differently about life and leaving it. But if he or she does achieve suicide it will not have been your fault - in any way at all.

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    1. Your last sentence I do feel comfortable with.
      I think that's what I was trying to say......

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  2. I was on duty in the early 1980s. A suicidal ex WRN called WRNS quarters,I spoke with her for about half an hour then handed her to another duty wren so that I could make calls to get her help.I transferred her call to the emergency welfare officer. I have no idea if she was OK...and I still wonder thirty years later.
    Jane x

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    1. Certain people haunt you don't they?

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  3. I can't imagine you doing anything less.

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  4. It's very hard to tell if someone's pondering suicide. They tend to keep it to themselves and maintain a "normal" front until suddenly they're gone. Jenny and I had a friend who had been a diagnosed schizophrenic for over 30 years. She had always been unhappy but we were totally stunned when she suddenly killed herself. She hadn't given any obvious sign of her intentions.

    I hope your conversation had a positive outcome.

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    1. Anyone with mental illness cannot make informed decisions
      That's what's so unfair about it

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  5. You are so thoughtful and kind, John, that I'm certain you helped the person, even if it was only for that one day.

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  6. Feel comforted that "your best" is pretty damned good.

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  7. I don't think I can talk about suicide anymore today. I am just being reminded of how useless I felt. I wish I had known you then. I am sure you helped.

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    1. As next of kin.... The struggle is more than Herculean

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    2. It was a very lonely time for me. x

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    3. I can appreciate that Rachel having witnessed it so many times ....I once saw a wife of an acutely depressed patient rip the curtains off the day room windows in an attempt to express how " fucking helpless" she felt

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    4. I coped better the second time, knew what to expect and what to ask. We get along fine now with a bit of help.

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  8. My middle son….now aged 34, has lost 2 of his best friends to suicide. I wish they could have talked to you John….I am sure you would have helped. The first boy was only 18, and my Chris was about to go to Leeds Uni with him. The group of friends had arrived at a pub on a saturday night, and an other pal who was there said that Paul had had a strop and gone off in a weird mood. They thought suicide was in his mind and tracked him to his father's house ( separated from his mother) his father had found him very difficult to deal with and said he had taken a rope from the garage and could not stop him going. My boy arrived home late after he and pals had been trying to look for Paul. Paul was found the next morning hanging from a tree on a local golf course. My son and his friends helped each other. 18 months later another close friend hung himself in his bedroom and his mother found him! I went to both funerals …so sad. My boy also lost another close friend in a motorbike accident that was not his fault…..he has had a lot to cope with, and his friendship group have helped him more than I ever could.

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    1. Men between the ages of 16 and 35 make up the biggest number of victims I think
      So so sad

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  9. I'm sure you did,,,,, :)

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  10. PS Just been back on Cro's blog. Robin Williams has brought back a lot of memories!

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  11. It is my impression that some people who are contemplating suicide want and need to talk to someone......get their thoughts out there, out of their head. For most that is enough to keep breathing, for some they will eventually succeed anyway.
    I am sure they were grateful to you John.

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  12. Some one in my family was very sick physical and mentally and talked about suicide many times . It is an heartbreaking road.
    To try to do your best is about all one can say and do.

    I am sure you gave that person a comforting 35 minutes. You will never know.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. What helps is the thought that sometimes you can share things with an unseen stranger much easier than your nok

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  13. Maybe the person had decided to end it all regardless of your conversation but wanted to make the phone call as a way of telling someone else of their intentions. If you were the last person they spoke with then they would have been very fortunate. I am sure you showed loads of empathy and I have no doubt you did your best John. This is such a difficult subject and I hope I haven't offended anyone with what I have said.

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    1. Sometimes you are perfectly right Simone
      Human contact, even at the end you ostensibly want is vital

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  14. I would not be strong enough to do that kind of work; I am glad there are those like you who can.

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  15. I've already left comments on Cro and Tom's blogs about my brother's suicide last year.
    Doing our best is all we can do, and it sounds like you did that, John.

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    1. I think families feel the most helpless despite often being the ones that have tried the best and the most

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  16. Being there and doing the best you can makes a real difference in the lives of so many

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  17. I suspect your best is very, very good indeed. And ulitmately it is the individual's own choice. Sometimes not easy to accept.

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  18. A serious but touching post John. I too have dealt with suicides in a work capacity and seen some of the dreadful things mental illness can cause a person to do to themselves. It's a terrible thing and some have stayed with me for many many years. I managed to stop one once which I will always remember. You and many others do a marvellous job and I know you did your very best. Thank you. X

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  19. I don't know what I think about suicide, any more. My father threatened it often to me, the last fifteen years he was not well, and alive. I did not like being a pawn in his game. In the end he was too old and feeble to do anything but die naturally.
    My youngest brother did kill himself, to escape his drug induced demons. I was years coming to terms with that. I disliked most the precedent.
    Some years later I talked my older brother out of "disappearing." Watching him decline and die these last five years I realized his refusal of all medical attention after his first stroke and who knows how many heart attacks was his passive path to oblivion. I watched him in the hospital this last time, doing little to recover. I realized he was really going for it this time.
    I remember all the conversations with my father my little brother, my older brother, and I marvel you can do it.

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    1. Having the emotional distance from the situation, and having a robust support/ supervision in place allows health care professionals to help if helping is possible

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  20. No matter how much support you have it must weigh heavily at times...as you say do your best.... and we all support the good you do :)

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  21. I'm still convinced you're an angel.

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  22. The thing about suicide is the Loneliness of it all. I have had so many thoughts in my head after Robin Williams as it brought back memories of a friend who committed suicide in virtually the same way. Sadly, we only realized about the good byes afterwards. It was a planned one. :/

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  23. You're a good man, Farmer John. If you couldn't reach them, I doubt anyone could. Continuing the fight, regardless of outcome, is the bravest act of all.

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  24. Suicide is contagious. If I were suicidal, you are the nurse for whom I would long, John.

    Love,
    Janie

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  25. Do your best is all anyone can do. When I hear of suicides, I feel more sadness for those left behind who have to live with all the"what ifs".

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    1. I agree with Starting Over. Often it is the ones who are left behind who I feel sorry for and sometimes for the departed one it is a blessed relief from the ongoing misery of years of depression. All you can do is offer compassionate support.

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  26. Your voice may have been the best thing that person needed to hear, regardless of outcome. Bless you for doing such a difficult and necessary thing, listening.

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  27. Nice going, John. It's in the best traditions of your profession, and it appears you are one of the best.
    It takes it's toll though, as you're aware. Pay attention to that.

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  28. In the early 90's, I volunteered at an HIV clinic to do pretest counseling and then transitioned to post test counseling. Giving someone a positive result was difficult and the conversation afterwards was even more so. There were a few who discussed it, I did my best and now, 20+ years on, I still wonder how they did. We do our best John, that's all we can do. I'm glad your person had you there. Hugs to you!

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  29. Hi John, thanks for your post. I feel you are right, to do our best. This was my resolve after seeing a loved one 'slip through' without me doing anything.

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  30. A thought provoking post. All any of us can do is our best for others. This person is so fortunate that you took the time to talk it through. Talking about things is always positive.

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  31. Interesting and thought-provoking post John as I was one of the bloggers who spoke about suicide. It has certainly made me think, but i would be interested to know whether you totally disapprove of suicide or not.

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    1. No I don't pat..... But the decision has to be made in the absence of any mental illness or sudden trauma and anxiety.
      For some people suicide is exactly what they want to do....I concede most of those people are in the minority, but their voices need to be listened to and their wishes accepted.
      The majority of people that contemplate suicide do so when their mind in not in balance. .
      Those people need to be cared for, protected and treated.

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    2. The two suicides that impressed me most were two women who jumped, or ran, off the Gap. I believe their decisions were absolute, quite complete in their reasoning, quite rational when I think back on it and yet devastating to their families and friends left behind.

      I still think of their running jumps as mythic, very brave, (Women!) and the end to a conversation.

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  32. If I was feeling that way .... you are the person I would want to talk to.

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  33. My Mother always says you can't do better than your best. I've always tried to stick to that philosophy. Good weekend to you. x

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  34. Being there and listening to, and talking to this person was the best you could do for them, hopefully by doing this you gave them the chance to think about their intentions, put things into some kind of perspective and move forward. Whichever way they chose to do this they at least had the knowledge that someone had listened to them and cared about them enough to give them time and understanding.

    I have been on the end of a phone with a suicidal person, a family member, and managed to get them to seek medical help, they had already taken way too many tablets, although I found out later when we picked him up from hospital, not enough to kill him, but most certainly enough according to the doctor to cause liver and kidney damage.

    It's emotionally draining but also in a way satisfying to know that whatever the outcome you have done your best .... sometimes it's all we have to offer .... our best!!

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  35. My lovely young daughter suffers depression, I try my hardest to be there for her whenever she needs me, these couple of weeks it has been often. The black hole I see her in sometimes makes my heart stop, as her mother I feel powerless to do anything more worthwhile than hold her and let her just be...I wish, John, that there were more people like you that cared, and were the sounding board for people suffering the effects of crippling depression. We are fortunate that my daughter has found an amazing young woman doctor that has even been to the retail store where she works on her day off just to check on my daughter. I give many thanks for people like you, and her.

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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