When someone tries to take his or her life, and for some reason, whatever reason, is unsuccessful. It is a traumatic experience not only for them, but also for their family and friends when they realise that they so nearly lost someone who they love, respect and need; most will rally round, and try to give whatever support and care is needed to bring their loved one back to their old self. But not all, when someone decides that suicide is their only option, they may have already sought help from everyone they love and trust; partners, wives, husbands, siblings, close friends, doctors etc. etc. Sadly, (in a few cases) they find that some of these ‘trusted’ people, superficial friends, are not interested, or will come up with trite sentiments such as ‘Come on get a life, you’ve got so much to live for’ or ‘I didn’t realise you were having problems, come on let’s get drunk’. By now, they have probably tried every avenue available; often including drink or drugs, and they can be so desperate that they see suicide as the only option. If a person really wants to live, they are not going to risk their life by taking an overdose of drugs, or threatening to throw themselves off a high building, because they may well kill themselves by accident. So usually, when someone attempts suicide it is a deliberate attempt to take his or her life – not ‘A cry for help’.
After someone has tried to take their life and not succeeded, there can be the slow realisation that they are still alive when they should be dead. There is no Eureka moment where they jump with joy; instead, there is a feeling of abject failure because they could not use that one last power they thought they had; the ability to take their own life away.
I work as a mental health advocate for Bridging the Gap at Mind in Taunton & West Somerset, and in the course of my work, I meet quite a few survivors of suicide, as clients, telephone callers or drop-ins. I have also talked with four people by telephone as they were attempting to take their lives, they all called to say what they were doing and why they were doing it, two of them said how they felt the services had let them down. I remember one lady in particular, who had called from out of county, and lived in a remote moorland cottage. She had just started taking a mixture of Diazepam and Morphine, and was taking them while we were talking. I asked her the usual questions name, address, and telephone number, she then went on to tell me why she was doing what she was doing. By this time, I had asked a colleague to dial 999 and to get the police and an ambulance there as quickly as possible. Back to the caller, when I asked if she had considered her local Crisis Team, she left me in no doubt as to what she thought of them and went on to explain that she had had a bad experience with them, and did not feel able to trust them anymore. We carried on talking until I spoke to one of the paramedics one hour and twenty minutes later, by which time the lady was barely conscious. Just so, you know, I checked with her hospital the next day and was very pleased to hear that she had survived. My thoughts now are; if there had been a Suicide Crisis Centre in her county, she could possibly have avoided going through this awful experience.
Why am I writing this now?
Recently Joy Hibbins the founder of Suicide Crisis in Cheltenham, Gloucester has written a blog called “Please Don’t Call Us ‘Difficult to Engage’” in which she describes not only her own experience of statutory services and why they are not always able to give the support needed, but also gives the reasons why she has set up Suicide Crisis. She has also written an article for The Independent, which tells us how Suicide Crisis has developed since she set it up. After reading both her blog and the article, and comparing the experience of my own clients and callers, I came to realise how much we need a Suicide Crisis Centre in Somerset.
31st July 2016
Here are some links, which you may find useful if you need to talk, or have been affected by the suicide of someone close to you:
Helpline open 24 hours a day
0300 330 5463
Somerset Suicide Bereavement Support Service is available to anyone bereaved by suicide in Somerset.