Thursday, 26 May 2011


I see death every day.  Not many people can say that.  Not many people understand what it is like to be confronted with the fact of one's own mortality so often.  It's part of what I do, it goes with the territory.  That's not to say I don't get affected.  I believe if you don't get affected, then you are in the wrong profession, and it is time to move on.  But that makes it hard.  Hard to sit and watch the widow, the son, the father, after you have given them the worst of all possible news.

Death comes in many forms.  There is the expected death, often a blessed relief for all, patient included, perhaps after a painful, drawn-out illness.  There is the unexpected death, home just two weeks following a successful heart bypass, then found lifeless in bed one morning.  There are the deaths from trauma, car accidents or stabbings.

And then there are those that deal the fateful blow themselves.  Those that I get called to are invariably the more violent: the blade, the rope, the train, the 5 storey fall.  These cases affect me more than anything.  They leave me numb.  That anyone could want to end their life is one thing - to end it in such an aggressive manner is another.  They drain me, both the the act itself and the intent behind the act.  They often leave me empty and low for days after.

I had two today.


  1. Sorry to hear that :( It's amazing what you do. Not a lot of people could do it. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. Sorry to hear that. I see people die regularly myself and I've been had too many friends kill themselves or try to. I never been at 'the business end' of suicides, but it's something that will come up as I train as a mental health nurse.

    I don't envy you in dealing with these things, but I completely respect your ability to do so.

    Thanks for a great blog

  3. Really sorry to hear that. They teach us at medical school how to deliver bad news and make it out like it's just the same as learning anatomy, but it's not. Just try and remember all those who you save, they and everyone else are so thankful for the job that you do.

  4. I've read an awful lot of your blog in the last two days after a bit of blog-roll hopping and I think this post got to me most. I am sorry that these calls hit you so hard and that nothing I can say will make it any less painful.

    I said something similar over on MinimumCover's blog post here, but it fits here too..

    I have attempted to kill myself. I failed (obviously or I wouldn't be writing this), but I came close three years ago through an overdose, which put me in HDU for a few days and a psych hospital for weeks. It took a long time and a subsequent attempt before I eventually came out of that depression and started to rebuild my life.

    Unfortunately, I have been increasingly low lately. Depression has returned and is hitting me hard. The suicidal thoughts have been transient, but worsening and my thought-out methods are of the increasingly violent nature, having failed with "easier" options in the past.

    The fact though that this and MinimumCover's blog have made me feel so awful suggests that things are nowhere near as bad as they were a few years ago. I think your blog is going to sit in my conscience every time these thoughts pass through my mind. I don't want to become one of your calls (or one of your equivalents in the NW - especially as my friend is one). Back then, I was so certain that death was the only possible outcome and although I was consumed by guilt, this wouldn't have been (and wasn't) enough to stop me. At the moment, it is. This is progress. I think I need to keep this in mind - I am recovering, this is only a setback. I hope so at least.

    Thank you for making me realise this. I am grateful.

    You and your colleagues all do an amazing job, but I think the fact you share this with your readers is pretty special too. It is good to understand some of the person behind the professional and to understand what goes through your mind when you do this stuff day in day out. It just makes me all the more grateful.