A young nurse approached me and said “I just wanted to thank you for writing that article. I was not sure but now I know exactly what I need to do.” We stood hugging each other for a while in the hospital corridor this morning. I felt grateful for that moment. Her heartfelt gratitude brought tears to my eyes.
The response to the article makes me feel as though people have been waiting to hear more about mental illness and suicide. They have been like unacknowledged entities that exist amongst us silently. Or maybe we have been deaf-mute so far and now are ready to speak and listen. It is about time; already too late for some of us.
Last week I met a young doctor whose wife is near the end of her GP training. He told me that she has not spent any dedicated time in psychiatry during the 3 years of her training. Nothing at all. This is still happening. 1 in 4 patients attending a GP surgery present with a problem which has a direct or indirect bearing on their state of mind.
CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is part of mandatory training for all doctors because it saves lives. But Suicide Prevention is not. Does that not save lives?
Those that speak out tend to be those who have been most affected by mental illness and suicide. That something good comes of their/our suffering and loss is but a small consolation but perhaps it was always this way:
Like to a ship that storms urge on its course,
By its own trials our soul is surer made.
The very things that make the voyage worse
Do make it better; its peril is its aid.
And, as the storm drives from the storm, our heart
Within the peril disimperilled grows;
A port is near the more from port we part –
The port whereto our driven direction goes.
If we reap knowledge to cross-profit, this
From storms we learn, when the storm’s height doth drive –
That the black presence of its violence is
The pushing promise of near far blue skies.
Learn we but how to have the pilot-skill,
And the storm’s very might shall mate our will.
– Fernando Pessoa