“I spent over 4 hours on Tuesday night talking a chronically suicidal patient out of jumping off a bridge after multiple suicide attempts in the past two months, and convinced her to meet me at the hospital to get treatment that she needed to stay stable. A phone conversation that began with her at the bridge saying: “I just want to die”, ended 5 hours later, not with tragedy, but thankfully with a renewed sense of hope in the patient, and a desire to try again to work together toward a better path.Celebrating more than 1025 signatures on the MAID2MAD.ca declaration!
That critical conversation was a continuous see-saw, a battle between the will to live and the desire to die. The turning point arrived with the offer to accompany her to hospital. She needed someone trustworthy to be there for her, to be present with her, and to stand beside her in her darkest hour. It required a firm stance on the part of her doctor, a firm commitment to not give in to the deception of death, and a literally extended hand (albeit gloved during this pandemic) to pull someone back from the brink of death. Deeds of love and compassion, words of faith, hope, and affirmation offer dignity to broken souls, heals the body, eases the mind, and revives the spirit.
Are we our brother’s keeper? In today’s world, we must rise to the call to care for one another, especially for those who are most helpless. We must be the ones to stand in the gap and give hope and reason to pursue life again. When the medical system had nothing left to offer my patient (hospital admission was deemed ineffective and usually more harmful) after her more than 7th attempt in the last couple of months and a revolving door pattern in and out of hospital, she cried through her tears: “Doctor, thank you for not giving up on me.” And when I asked her after, as she contemplated ending her life after she had already called other supports and didn’t find them to be helpful, what stopped her from jumping? She looked directly into my eyes and exclaimed: “YOU! When you called me! THAT's what stopped me!”
Never underestimate the power of one’s words, the power of one's presence, the impact of love, genuine care and compassion, and the effect that one's willingness to go that extra mile in accompanying another in their pain can have in a moment of great darkness. Be a light, a firm sturdy hand to show the way. And never, never, give up.”
Friday, November 20, 2020
A suicide prevention story from a Canadian psychiatrist.
I received the following message from a Canadian psychiatrist who gave permission to publish it.