“He loved me in the purest sense and I loved him. That’s how he kept me alive.” says Marsha about Ted, a catholic priest.
This relationship taught her two important things that she applied to her work as a therapist for seriously suicidal people. She wrote about these things and taught them to her students, the future generation of therapists.
‘I was unable to say thank-you then. Now I can.’
If you’re giving unconditional love to help someone cope with the hell they are in, if you’re holding them emotionally and physically, don’t interpret their absence of ‘thanks’ as a sign that you are not giving them what they need. You probably are.
2. ‘Keep loving them.’
When someone sees no point in living, they are like someone walking in a mist. They don’t see the mist. They don’t see that they are getting wet. If you’re walking with them, you may not see it either. But if they have a pail of water, you can collect the water that was mist, in it. Each moment of love adds to the mist, which adds to the water in the pail. By itself, each moment of love may not be enough. But ultimately, the pail fills up and the person in hell can drink that water of love and be transformed.
Like Marsha, I know this to be true. I’ve been there and drunk from that pail.
(Inspired by Marsha M Linehans’s book: ‘Building a life worth living’.)
“Three weeks before that day he was at a bridge and he called his friend who called the police. They came out but just told him to call the GP. One week before that day he called another friend saying he had a panic attack. The friend picked him up. Four days before that day they told the GP what was happening. She gave him a prescription for anti-depressants and said it would take 3 weeks for a referral. 4 days later my brother was dead. At no point did anyone tell the family.”
That day was sixteen days ago.
I wonder if anyone sat down with him to listen to what was going on with him. Two friends, one GP and the Police – none of them could put him in touch with his life and keep him safe. Yes. Ultimately it is up to him but I wonder if he was told that it might be helpful to get in touch with his sister, his brother, his mother, his father – the people who had known him all his life. That he could choose someone who he had a deep connection with, someone he trusted, and let them know how fragile he was at present. Someone who truly cared.
I wonder if you’ve seen this recent advert from St John’s ambulance where a dad is desperately trying to save his son. It encourages lay people to learn First Aid, in case of a physical health crisis. It’s a good one.
Let’s put this in the context of doctors not knowing how to give First Aid to someone in a Mental health crisis.
The police not knowing that this is life-threatening, that there are resources in addition to the GP, like A&E, Maytree, Papyrus, Samaritans, CALM, their community, their family.
The GP not knowing that this is life-threatening, that there are things in addition to antidepressants that help, like having a proper conversation, exploring the suicidal ideation, informing them that it would be in their best interest if they included a family member or a friend of their choice in their care, giving them details of helpful Charities, giving them compassion and hope, drawing up a Safety Plan, getting in touch with the local Mental Health Crisis Team and being aware that antidepressants can make things worse for young people in the short term.
Over-medicalisation of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in a setting where most medics are uneducated and unsupported in managing these crises.
Save the boys and girls by insisting on education for all professionals in medicine, nursing, law-enforcement, prison service, youth services, social work, for schools universities, hair-dressers, cab-drivers, students, parents, teachers, managers and everyone else is the only way to get it right – A multi-agency approach to Suicide Prevention.
In the USA, ‘legislation’ was recognised as essential to Suicide Prevention(SP) in 2012. At present, 10 states have legally mandated training for all health care professionals.
ASIST Training (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training):