I tell them that I’ve taken an overdose and they send me to A&E. I’m lying in a hospital bed being prodded and poked. The same questions get repeated: how much and what did you take? The ‘treatment’ begins.
I’m hooked up to drips, vomiting, shaking, sweating and cold. I cannot get comfortable in the bed with all this noise around me, the tears won’t stop. All I keep thinking is that I wish I hadn’t come here. The doctors and nurses barely look at me, barely say anything. When they do, I sense their disgust. This is self inflicted and they have to treat me as if they are not judging what I have done. Hours pass until I get sent for a psych evaluation when I’m deemed physically okay.
The conversation is short. Why did you do this? Are you planning on doing this again? Please know that if you say yes, we will need to section you. I do not want to be sectioned. I was feeling overwhelmed, I didn’t want to die, it won’t happen again. Off I go, no follow up happens. I am reminded to take my medication.
Other times, I’ve been sent to crisis team by my GP or therapist when expressed feeling suicidal. They consider me to be a danger to myself. I sit with someone and answer all their questions about my plans. I am honest for once because I’m scared of what might happen if I leave her. I do not trust myself to keep safe. They tell me they have no beds available, they never have beds available. I’m lucky, I have someone to go home to who will watch over me to make sure I am safe. Not everyone has that option. Again, there’s no follow up.
If outside of the mental health system, you might think that trying to kill yourself or saying you want to die should be the point at which intervention happens. Well, I’m afraid that you’re wrong. There are so many situations where suicide could have been prevented if the right support was put in place. But, overstretched and understaffed NHS services mean that people are slipping through the cracks and off the cliffs.
Over the years, it has crossed my mind that I have hit rock bottom and still been unable to get help. Maybe getting sicker is the only way to get treatment. But sometimes even when you are lying in A&E after trying to kill yourself, there still is not the time or resources to help you through things. We can talk about preventing suicide and we can acknowledge the sadness of it all but the reality is that the support is not out there for people when they desperately need it.
It is all well and good being able to call crisis lines (which can be okay) but that is not always enough for people. We need somewhere safe to go, we need to be listened to and we need people to believe in our pain. Attempting suicide might be a cry for help but the cries are not being heard.
Suicidal thoughts are often deemed to not be important if one has no concrete plans on how they would kill themselves. Leave those thoughts long enough and they will transform into action. Stop sending people away from hospitals because they currently have ‘no immediate plans’ to end their life.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. People are all over social media talking about how suicide is a ‘permanent solution to a temporary problem.’ However, some problems will be permanent if left without treatment. Essentially, something needs to be done in earlier stages of mental health problems in order to prevent suicide attempts/completion ever coming into the picture.