Feb 22, 2012

The last day on earth

Over 50% of teenagers have considered it before graduating high school. The young doctors I know that have worked in an emergency room practically know the procedure for treating a paracetamol overdose by heart. Some even roll their eyes when they yet again get the call from the nurse telling them “we have a young girl here that has taken too many pills – I’ve already started treatment with charcoal, do you want to come down and see her?”

The reason why the doctors roll their eyes and sigh isn’t really lack of compassion even though it might sound harsh written here in black and white. It is frustration mixed with helplessness, probably the worst feeling ever. I get them, at times maybe I’ve even been one of them but luckily I haven’t actually had that many attempted suicides in my time at the emergency room, so it’s harder to be jaded. But it is frustrating and sad to see one young girl after another being so miserable that they don’t see any other way out – and even worse, seeing the same person come in several times in the same situation. What has happened to a person who sees taking pills as a way to escape, that has that in her frame of reference? Because that’s where it all lays right, in that strange and horrifying thought that some people have suicide as one of their “problem solutions”, that the thought even can occur to them.

Even more horrifying probably, is the fact that even though there is still such a huge stigma attached to it, it’s so overwhelmingly common. Not the actual suicide and not even the attempts (even though they are both way more common than they should!), but the thought. So many people consider it but don’t have an outlet for their emotions, so they just walk around with the heaviest thought you could ever imagine all by them selves. It’s tempting to say that it’s someone’s fault. The parents, the teachers, the psychiatrist, the emergency room doctors who don’t refer every single patient to an extensive psych evaluation, the government for not giving enough money to the people who work with this, the commercials who cause so many self-esteem issues among young people, well I could go on.

But I don’t think you could ever find one particular reason for why this “solution” exists in some peoples head, like with some many other things; I think we have a collective responsibility for the people around us. A responsibility to be the kind of person someone can go to in case of an emotional crisis. In my line of work we often turn out to be the only person there, not because the patients have chosen us but because there isn’t anybody else, I find that the saddest part of all of this.


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