Rose Polge. Rebecca Ovenden. Lauren Phillips.
All junior doctors. All deaths by suicide, in just over one year.
The only three publicly known. Total number not known.
Polge’s mother linked her suicide directly to conditions at work – exhaustion because of long hours, work related anxiety, despair at her future in medicine and the news of the imposition of a new contract on junior doctors.
This problem is not limited to the UK. Earlier this year, 4 deaths within 5 months in Australia propelled the launch of an urgent investigation into the problem. No such investigation in the UK. Indeed, the law here explicitly excludes suicide from the requirements to report work-related deaths. A GMC report in 2016 stated that the low morale amongst junior doctors was putting patients at risk. Signals of distress and a dangerous level of alienation are an indication that the system cannot simply go on as before.
At the 2017 BMA junior doctors’ conference, delegates gave the union a mandate to lobby for all suicides to be investigated formally by their employer, jointly with the GMC, Health Education England and the BMA.
In France, workplace suicides are a well-recognised entity.
Yes. Suicides are complex. There can be many contributory factors. But when there is clear evidence of a link to work pressures, that should be given appropriate attention.
I grieve for his death.
For his guilt, his shame.
His self blame.
His sadness. His silence.
Every moment of distance.
Him, all alone. Forlorn.
His thoughts, torn.
His brokenness. Hopelessness.
His lightless eyes. His vanished smiles.
His hollow form. His shadow gone.
His quite desperation. Separation.
His terror. His fright.
Night after night.
Misunderstood, behind a hood.
For this black and white Now.
For this constant ‘How?’
That wretched day I went to work.
Every time I put me first.
Words unsaid. Eyes unmet.
Jokes and Stories unshared . Games unplayed.
Songs unhummed. Beats undrummed.
Meals uncooked. Dreams unhooked.
Films unseen. Jeans uncleaned.
Hugs unheld. Incense unsmelt.
Cocktails unmixed. Good-nights unkissed.
I grieve and I am grateful
For all that was given
and all that was taken away
And all the nitty-gritty.
For it pushes me closer to Divinity.
In conversation with a retired Paediatric surgeon today, the topic of premature babies came up. He said that the commonest type of surgery in new-borns has changed over the years. Unlike a couple of decades ago, the commonest operation now is for dead gut, essentially due to the rise in our ability to provide better care for premature babies. He thought that the incidence of premature births was almost double in London than anywhere else in the UK because of high stress levels.
According to one of the largest reviews of evidence, children born very prematurely are at greater risk of developing mental health and social problems that can persist well into adulthood. Children who weighed less than a kilogram at birth are about four times as likely as those born at term to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and significant emotional problems. This may be due to weakened connections in brain networks linked to attention, communication and the processing of emotions.
These findings are important because mental health issues that occur in childhood are a strong predictor of psychiatric disorders in adulthood. “There is a strong case for assessing, on a regular basis, the mental health status of these children, so that early intervention approaches might be implemented sooner rather than later, with a view to minimising future mental health problems,” said Prof Smith from Glasgow.
Sarah is a Registered General Nurse with 25 years’ experience. She worked as a Neonatal Nurse over the last 17 years prior to moving to The University of Salford where she is now a Neonatal Lecturer within the Midwifery Team.
Sarah became involved with PAPYRUS in 2013 after the loss of her 14-year-old son Ben to suicide. Ben was a premature baby.
‘Yes, but…’ essentially means “what you say is superlative, here’s the underlying truth.”
I am sorry but…
I like what you’ve done but…
The moment the ‘but’ appears, the previous half of the sentence gets completely negated. It sounds insincere or like blame or criticism.
I am shocked to discover how many times I use the word ‘but’ in one day. Recently I learnt that a simple and effective shift can be made if I replace ‘but’ with ‘and’. That way, this is true and that is true too. Multiple realities don’t need to compete. I don’t need to choose one.
‘I know you want more time to complete this book and the deadline is looming.’
‘You want my help here and I need to be in Wales for a few days.’
‘I’d like to help you and I need to make some difficult decisions.’
Feels and sounds better to both parties I think.
Multiple realities do not compete. They just exist.
You own a piece of truth and so do I. Let’s figure out what we can do.
Yes and, ‘NO BUT’!
Days come and go, one after another, in a silent single file. Left to me, I would let the disciplined procession pass quietly. Luckily, it is not left to me alone. Si is an expert at creating things to look forward to. Never before has my diary been so full of fun things to do. Even when the diary is blank, he comes up with ideas that make the day go by in the most enjoyable way.
We had no plans for today but then we needed to buy hose connections to water our tiny garden. A trip to the garden centre meant we walked around with a trolley and looked at things and found a few that would be nice for the house. Before long, we had to get a second trolley for things we hadn’t thought of before we entered the store.
Dolly Parton famously quotes, “my definition of happiness is having something to do what you love to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.”
One argument against constantly wanting something to look forward to could be that it takes our attention away from the present moment. Yet, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. Simple things like half an hour of peace to meditate or write a journal, a walk with a friend, a bike ride through the park, a warm shower or a bubble bath, trying out a new restaurant, a long chat with a friend on the phone, reading a book, cooking something nice and sharing with friends, a good stretch, a massage, a dance or exercise class can be uplifting. However, ‘doing’ something all the time is no fun. Doing less may be the answer for some.
Coming from a place of gratitude and abundance, looking forward to something is fabulous!
It were mental last weekend. We went crazy at the club. We did.
We ran around like a bunch of loonies.
Johnny was cackling like a fool. He’s a right schizo. He is.
Gives me the creeps, a right window-licker.
He’s not that bad really. He isn’t.
You gotta be a bit insane to live around here.
The place is completely mad! It is.
Could send anyone doolally. Completely demented!
Living like this is no living. It’s insane! Innit?
Yes. But Johnny’s a bit cuckoo. He is.
He just lost it. Went all OCD on me.
One minute I was ok. The next I wasn’t.
Bloody lunatic. Went bananas.
I wish he’d go away. I need him like a hole in my head.
It’s nuts being around him. Sends me round the bend.
Now everyone and me thinks I’m loopy.
Bloody psychos everywhere. Crackpots.
Nutters, them all. So they are.
Truth will set you free. But before that, it will piss you off.
If you’ve heard public speaking gurus speak publicly, you will know that not all of them are as fantastic as they think they are.
This is a snatch from a private conversation:
“When I was first married, I was right on time with the biological clock which set the pattern of correctness and timely dutifulness and the predictability of a marriage that lasted 14 years, kids, two of them, of course, divorce, a second marriage which was a disaster because, like everyone who divorces after 14 or 18 or 22 years, you’re crazy as a loon and you don’t know it and you think you’ve learnt so much and now you know what you really want and then this man shows up who tells you that you’re the one he’s been looking for forever and your body wakes up and you feel attractive and valued and excited about life again and so what if he’s a lot younger than you and even though all your friends and all the books and articles warn you that it’s too soon, that you need at least a year or two to figure things out, what’s the rush etc etc, you’re so caught up in the look in his eyes and, besides, he seems to know what he’s doing and it just feels so good to be in love and lust again that you go ahead and marry him and then it takes a week or two, maybe a month to figure out that you blew it. All your friends and books and articles were right. I mean he doesn’t even know the words to your favourite songs but then it takes a year or two to finally give up and get out and then you finally meet someone right for you. You marry him and you don’t see it coming. One morning two weeks before Christmas when you’re reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee and you are in your nice home with your nice husband and you are suddenly terrified that your life will continue exactly as it is until the day you die and you realise you better put your seat belt on because lunacy is sitting in the corner behind the Christmas tree, and it just irritates the hell out of me that all this is part of the schedule, you know, all that midlife crisis stuff, and I’m right on time as usual. I am a compulsive punctual, having a nervous breakthrough.”
That’s a stump speech. Showing up to yourself.
Write one for yourself. I will too. Answer four questions:
Where am I going?
Why am I going there?
Who’s going with me?
How will I get there?