Saturday, 30 December 2017

Thoughtful

Tom Stephenson's blog will affect a few readers today.
Suicide and the debate surrounding this, the most emotive, most irrational and to some most selfish of self destructive acts will bang on to the end of time.
Soon I shall me mentoring new Samaritans during the final parts of their extensive training.
In between the time wasters, the sex callers, the lonely, the unhappy and the distressed they will be faced with the suicidal caller and how the newbies cope with those first calls can have a profound effect on their careers within an already shrinking service.
I remember one particular caller when I started as a volunteer. A young professional man sat in his car on an unamed beach somewhere in Britain who was taking an overdose.
I remember throwing everything I had into that call.
Every " trick" I had in my arsenal was brought into play to bring some positive resolution out of a terribly sad situation but after an hour of talking the caller finally ended our conversation and I was left unsure of the outcome of a person I had suddenly come to care about.
At my debrief my mentor just let me talk about the call
She simply reflected that I had done my best.
and that's all any of us can do in situations like these


42 comments:

  1. Maybe Samaritans is like our Lifeline. It must be terribly hard to not know the outcome of a such a call. Did you get it right? You would never know. Onwards and upwards to the next call, all care but no resolution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Often you never know if you had made a difference . It's so easy for any of us to say the wrong thing...

      Delete
  2. Feeling thoughtful myself this morning after a difficult night. I probably said all the wrong things over breakfast but then is there ever the right thing to say?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have learned not to best myself up if my words are taken in the wrong way

      Delete
    2. I am trying to do that now!

      Delete
  3. Having the courage to even call The Samaritans is surely a cry for help - imbued with a sense that salvation might be possible.

    ReplyDelete
  4. you have to live in hope, and believe that your words may have passed on enough hope to them to let them carry on. Not easy

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Suicide and the debate surrounding this, the most emotive, most irrational and to some most selfish of self destructive acts will bang on to the end of time." Indeed these words have truth within them my friend yet, from my own experience, when one reaches the point of taking one's own life thoughts of selfishness, irrationality and emotions fall by the wayside with the overriding thought that family, friends and the world would be a far better place without me.
    I am glad that there are people like yourself out there who offer a hand or a kind word but sometimes that is not enough, but it is no reason to be hard upon yourself John. Some people are beyond saving as life can be a cruel thing. One does one's best and hopefully that is enough, after all our best is all we can achieve my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Talking to a Samaritan will bring comfort to the caller, regardless of what they choose to do afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had vague thoughts of suicide during my god awful, torturous marriage. Never being allowed to sleep and getting the shit kicked out of you every second day will do that for you. But I loved my kids so much that I just wasn't going to leave them. And I so thank God that I didn't. The thing is with suicide you just want to put an end to the suffering, you just want to no longer feel. I have every sympathy for people who go there because I understand it. Just glad I didn't put my kids through that. A

    ReplyDelete
  8. Two very thought provoking posts. I read them back to back., including all the comments. It always makes me wonder how they lost all hope.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I understand how someone can consider suicide "selfish" but someone needs to consider the mental pain and anguish these people are going through .. the black hole of despair they live in ..when death is a good alternative ..
    I know what the family feels like .
    It is difficult for anyone "normal" to understand what the person feels like. We always end up finding "hope" ..except for those who don't.
    It is horrible, heartbreaking and personal for many .. and not a subject for the closed minded or inexperienced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good comment.xx

      Delete
    2. Notes, I never meant to offend. My perspective is different than most. In1960, I was the 8 year old who came home from school and dialled the operator. It Changed my life forever.
      I am very grateful that times have changed and people talk about mental health and suicide. There still isn't enough support.

      Delete
  10. I have never forgiven a fellow blogger who took the easy way out, rather than man up and face the consequences of his actions. I don't know as I ever will forgive him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I have never forgiven a fellow blogger who took the easy way out, rather than man up and face the consequences of his actions. I don't know as I ever will forgive him."

      As a family member of someone who committed suicide .. I find your comment selfish ( it is not all about you ) and to expect someone who was in such despair that life was no longer worth living , to behave normally, is a great lack on your part, not the poor soul who ended his life.

      Delete
    2. Travel, your comment is cryptic and maybe I misunderstand.

      Taking your comment on face value I am astonished. Since when is killing ourselves an "easy way out"? Considering how dominant any living creature's instinct for survival is it must take a lot of despair and sense of hopelessness to end it all.

      You suggest that he should have faced up to the "consequences of his actions". Isn't that what he did? You can't hold it against people if they see no way out but to extinguish themselves. And your grandiosity whether you "ever will forgive him" is breathtaking. What's it to him anyway? He is dead.

      Compassion, Travel, compassion. Walk in a man's shoes and try his blisters before condemning someone roundly.

      U

      Delete
  11. Anonymous1:55 pm

    Sometimes depression plays into it. That’s a whole other dilemma.
    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It almost always plays a part in it .

      Delete
  12. What people don't understand is that depression can and often is, a fatal illness. It leads to death in some cases and if that death is caused by the sufferer him or herself, it is not ours to judge. The issue of suicide is huge and encompasses many, many elements that we, as outside observers, are not aware of.
    Can NOT be aware of because the struggle is so very, very internal and private. And I do not believe it is our right to call suicide the "easy way out." It is not. We have no idea the amount of strength it has taken someone to live with their pain for as long as they did.

    ReplyDelete
  13. About 6/7 years ago my son had 'suicidal ideation' and, luckily, asked for help, was heard and then hospitalised for a month (this ward has now closed). He is now 29 and barely remembers any of it. I remember every second of every day of that time. It was truly agonising. Some people (as Travel, above, says) take the easy way out, for others though it is the only way to deal with their pain, despair or whatever it is that they cannot cope with. I think it can be a brave thing to do in some circumstances, to take that giant step into the unknown in order to end your suffering.
    I'm going to read Tom's post now.
    x
    My blog posts (now gone) at the time helped with my depression.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I simply can't imagine the pain someone must be in to consider ending their life. Thank goodness there are people out there willing to give of their time and caring to try to help.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous3:50 pm

    Our Doctor once told me when my brother in law committed suicide you couldn't have prevented it because once it is in their minds they will do it possible not then but they will do it at some point. Never feel guilty that you didn't do enough you probably did. This was proven right when our sons best friend at the age of 40 last year hung himself even after attempts by all his friends and doctors to help him he eventually ended his life. Samaritans are an invaluable service to the desperate one which we couldn't do without and I from the bottom of my heart thank you and all those that help. It is so sad that these things happen though.

    Sue R

    ReplyDelete
  16. All we can ever do is our best John. I started training for Samaritans when I retired but found that my hearing problem was too great.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It must be hard not to know if you helped John but you tried. Our family has been touched by suiside and the sadness around it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We had a suicide in our extended family just after Thanksgiving. He left two college age kids and two seven-year-old twins behind to deal with this terrible tragedy for the rest of their lives. From what I understand, no one saw this coming so there was no opportunity to talk him out of it. Just so very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  19. These are hard calls. I sat on the other end of suicidal phone calls from one cousin several times while we were in college. i also ended up in the emergency room with her four times having her stomach pumped from an overdose of sleeping pills she had taken. i remember one night after we had been on the phone for several hours, and i had used everything i could think of to convince her not to take her life, i finally said, "i cannot keep my eyes open any longer, i have to sleep," and we hung up. i fell into unconsciousness telling myself i had done my best and praying it was enough. i called her the next morning unsure whether she would answer, and she did. she is still with us today. in fact her husband died of cancer and i worried she would go back to that suicidal place, but she powers through. your counselor was right. we can only do our best.

    ReplyDelete
  20. May I say, and this is not one of my "usual" digs at Tom and his mysterious ways - it's heartfelt, that I am not surprised that even the subject of suicide he can't deal with more than flippantly. I do think it takes a little more than being called a "bastard" or, as Tom so quaintly points out, being Italian to do away with oneself. I particularly like Tom's self righteous, and I quote "If I ever feel as though I want to end it all, I think of my responsibilities toward those who have shown and shared so much love to me in the past and, I hope, the future." Trouble with that noble and self congratulatory thought is that no one knows what might drive us to the brink. In despair, I dare say, rational thought is in short supply. Extinguished.

    Enough of Tom, and I only expressed my exasperation with him here because you linked your post to his and, as you know, he takes all my comments on his blog down on principle.

    Suicide (and attempts of) have touched my life many a time and at, emotionally, close quarters. Courtesy of the limits of the comment box, John, I won't give a run down and all its details. But one thing I do know is that suicide is never selfish. It's brutal unadulterated despair with the human condition. I also know that most of those, though not all, of those left behind will crucify themselves. If ever there is a guilt trip (not intended by the suicide I am sure) it's someone you are close to, maybe even love, trying and/or succeeding in taking their life. Reading your post (and comments so far) and re-reading them again several times to fully understand every one, my memories are stirred, my throat knotted at the fact how alone we really are when push comes to shove.

    I admire your work as a Samaritan. It takes the stamina of an oxen to not let yourself be destroyed by some of the human suffering you come across at the end of a phone. That you never know the outcome, ie how much difference your helping hand has made, is a wrench. Not least because, on the whole, as humans we like being "rewarded" for our efforts. In the case you mention I dare say hope wasn't lost. As long as the suicidal convey their intention there is hope. Beware the suicidals who don't let on.

    I hope you'll be understanding that, more than usual, I have been expansive. As I said, suicide has touched my life so many times I can't feel but impassioned about it.

    To leave on a lighter note: When I was about seventeen my father once said to me: "If you commit suicide I won't attend your funeral." Think about it. As I am the least suicidal person there is (so far) I have no idea what possessed him to say it. What made me smile, and my father is an intelligent man, that he thought it'd make any difference to me that he'd not be at my grave side.

    Anyway, my dear John, next post you may ask, and stand by for an avalanche of responses: "If you were so inclined what would your preferred method of killing yourself be?" I'll let you know my answer now: I'd do a Virginia Woolf complete with stones in my pocket (to be on the safe side). And, whilst I am afraid of water, I imagine it a benign death (compared to the mess of other methods).

    Ursula

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear John, yes, know that you did your best. My life was ripped apart by suicide recently xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kind and comforting words can heal (or bandage) a broken soul. We never really know how we impact other’s lives, all we can do is our best and hope that we have have touched another’s life in a positive way.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So very familiar. So painfully familiar.
    Suicide here is almost an epidemic in some groups. I, like you and so many others, do my best. Hoping it helps, knowing in some cases it is too little, too late.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think I read a suicide here on blogger. People I reached out to for understanding understood or didn't. I remember one other reader telling me the blogger just meant he's see us on the other side as a way of saying he was done blogging. Yes, we just do the best we can.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Jane you absolutely did not offend. My brother in law was a doctor with a lovely and loving family but he still killed himself. It is very sad to think of a loving member of the family suddenly destroying everything with that final act.
    Leaving a wife whose world just ceased to be and 3 children who adored him and were never the same,after.
    Suicides don’t just kill one person, the whole family dies in a way.
    There is no reason to hold anger against that person for the need they had that resulted in suicide ... it is selfish and useless to be angry at someone who found Life so painful..miss them, be sad but get rid of the anger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Notes, I would agree. with you. I was never angry and my overwhelming sense of that time was uncertainty.

      Delete
  26. Anonymous8:11 pm

    My experience with suicide was with my husband. He was in his thirties, terminally ill and had decided that he would die at a time when he could no longer handle life. He expressed this to the mental health professionals, who, in turn, met with me via their medical ethics board. Their concern was whether I would assist him for this would be a major problem. No need for them to worry for, while I would not intervene, I could not participate.

    The lesson I learned is that for some individuals, the possibility of escape is enough to cope with the unimaginable and can very well empower people.

    He was ready to act when and if the time came, but never did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this comment x

      Delete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This has been an awful year for me and I thought I would never reach the light again but suicide was not an option. To me it would have been a betrayal of my lovely son who did not have the option of saying yes or no so I had to do the the signing of the papers to turn off his life support. I was abused but the truth was that he only had 24/36 hours to live, was in an induced coma, every piece of equipment he was using was desperately needed in ICU. That 24 hours meant his corneas could be used and two people could see again and he would have been pleased. So to all who called it suicide by mother, I hope you never had to make the choice and it's why I fight on through every depression as hard as I can to reach the light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your story and your son. That was a tough decision, but he gave a gift to others. May the days get a little easier for you.

      Delete
  29. I know the feeling of talking to a suicidal person as they take tablet after tablet. Fortunately for me I managed to talk the person in question to briefly hang up on me to call themselves an ambulance, and then call me back. We carried on talking until the paramedic came on the line and reassured me that their next stop would be the hospital.

    When I eventually came off the phone I was totally emotionally drained. How the Samaritans cope doing this on a regular basis amazes me. You do a fantastic and very needed job. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am in complete agreement on that, how do the Samaritans and all of those people who sit on the Helpline phones listening to horror stories and trying to keep someone from committing suicide. Special people .

      Delete

I love comments and will now try very hard to reply to all of them
Please dont be abusive x