Why?

Do not shed tears when I have gone
But smile instead because I have lived.
Do not shut your eyes and pray to God that I’ll come back.
But open your eyes and see all that I have left behind.
David Harkins (1981)

Some of the saddest jobs we ever do as ambulance workers are to suicides. You could argue that when patients are ill, their final demise is, to a certain extent, expected. When loved ones are snatched away suddenly, through trauma or exceptional circumstances, conflicting emotions of anger and/or gratitude, that there was no suffering, may help to ease their passing. Suicide, however, mainly brings blame and self retribution on those loved ones left behind. How could someone they loved so much feel that their life’s problems could only be resolved in the most ultimate way.
Why? Why? Why?

+++++++++++

This morning started with a call given as ‘cardiac arrest’. The patient, an elderly gentleman, had been found by his wife. He’d been dead a while by the time I arrived. The scene suggested suicide though subsequent police investigations left the possibility of other circumstances. In the end things were handed over to CID and Scene of Crimes. I suspect that it’s mostly a case of ‘arse covering’ but I may be wrong; consequently I’m unable to provide any precise details.

+++++++++++

They were a traditional couple. She cooked and kept house. He was the primary bread winner. He ran the household and served as patriarch to their large, extended family. He was the rock on which she built her life and hopes; and now he’s gone. None of the family had any insight as to why. Although he’d had a recent illness he was on the road to recovery and plans were well in-hand for a jolly festive season with children and grandchildren. No explanation; no note; no inkling that anything was so desperately wrong.

Whilst I was still at the scene many of the family arrived. It’s heartbreaking to watch grown men break down and cry. I can’t even begin to understand what they must be going through. They must find me terribly insensitive as I go through all the necessary procedures and paperwork before handing things over to the police.
My thoughts are with the family.

++++++++++

Just to demonstrate how emotionally detached we all become. Following my departure from the scene, I then spent a very pleasant hour or so with a charming WPC at the local nick, providing a statement as I was first on scene. On the down-side, the tea they serve is crap.

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5 Responses to Why?

  1. ecparamedic says:

    Crap isn’t it? One that really sticks in my mind was done by someone who must have known that one of his kids would find him after he’d done the deed, and he wasn’t a pretty sight. Bloody selfish.

    Just spent the morning sorting police and all the forms (ROLE) etc at a different job, feel shit having to ask all the questions after breaking in and finding their Dad. Just feel so damn useless.

    I have to agree though, either WPCs are getting nicer or I’m getting less fussy, must be the handcuffs. šŸ™‚

    SD

  2. Millietant says:

    Your comment: “Your could argue that when patients are ill, their final demise is to a certain expected” reminds me of a run we had once (again, am not emergency staff, so it’s not the same but i can’t find a PTS/HDU blog, and i like yours anyway)
    Turned up to a house to take a patient on a fairly long trip to his appointment. He was smartly dressed and didn’t smell, always a plus on a long journey. He got his coat on, we had a quick chat about the photos and medals in the front room from his days in the army. He was unsteady as we left the house but didn’t want to take my arm, more out of pride i hoped than anything else.
    During the run he talked about his life, family and the pointlessness of going to hospital when his illness was terminal, but said he went because he didn’t want to upset his wife. I tried to find something positive to say and commented that he knew roughly when he was going to die, and could do/say some of the things he had wanted to do. He commented that since his diagnosis he could choose exactly when to die mething which he said he would prefer) but didn’t want to do to his family. I found his courage and strength

  3. Millietant says:

    Your comment: “Your could argue that when patients are ill, their final demise is to a certain expected” reminds me of a run we had once (again, am not emergency staff, so it’s not the same but i can’t find a PTS/HDU blog, and i like yours anyway)
    Turned up to a house to take a patient on a fairly long trip to his appointment. He was smartly dressed and didn’t smell, always a plus on a long journey. He got his coat on, we had a quick chat about the photos and medals in the front room from his days in the army. He was unsteady as we left the house but didn’t want to take my arm, more out of pride i hoped than anything else.
    During the run he talked about his life, family and the pointlessness of going to hospital when his illness was terminal, but said he went because he didn’t want to upset his wife. I tried to find something positive to say and commented that he knew roughly when he was going to die, and could do/say some of the things he had wanted to do. He commented that since his diagnosis he could choose exactly when to die if he wanted and that it was something he would prefer but didn’t want to do to his family. I think his courage and strength was remarkable.
    On a lighter note, and you have to have them, if i ever have to do a long distance to your place i like my tea the colour of honey, tea bag squeezed against the side of the cup, not too much milk and 1 sugar thanks!

  4. Millietant says:

    Whoops! Sorry, please delete comment/s

  5. E says:

    When my mother died (not by suicide I hasten to add) the ambulance crew that attended were exceptionally kind and discrete.

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