I now know WHY people don’t get involved. Especially in a small town. This has been weighing on my mind for a while now. Without naming names…I will try to tell the story.
Let me preface this by saying there had been a number of suicides in our immediate area right around this time. Almost like an epidemic. The local paper ran a couple articles on suicide prevention. Plus it’s something we learned about way back when…The warning signs, steps you can take to help and so on.
I HAD a very close friend who lived the next town over. She has some health problems that included diabetes and anxiety. Her Doctor had changed her medications. Which ones exactly, I am not sure.
Within weeks my friend had lost an insane amount of weight and was doing some pretty crazy things. She started talking about an imaginary set of twins that she ‘just had’ and did I want to see them? She carried on about all manner of things that were in no way possible.
And then my friend started giving away everything. And saying things like “I won’t be needing these anymore” and “I’m going away at the end of the week.” and “Where I’m going, it doesn’t matter anyway”
Ding! Ding! Ding! Warning bells and sirens going off! I tried to feel her out about her feelings and it became quite apparent that things weren’t looking good.
So~ I totally breached protocol..I called her LPN ~ In the town m friend lives in is a clinic that ‘everybody’ goes to and the LPN runs it. ~ In confidence I mentioned how my friend was acting and what she was saying. And said that this all began when her medication got changed. I knew my friend had just been in the clinic days before. So I asked the LPN if maybe she could call my friend and lure her back in. Maybe by saying something like “Gee, we accidentally did something with your blood-work, can you drop back in?” That way she could observer her…
Do you know what the LPN said??? And I quote “It’s a small town, we don’t want to get involved unless we Have To.”
REALLY??? Don’t want to get involved????
The LPN went on to ask if could tell her she’s suicidal and can she come in? Uhhhh. No. Tried already. After much begging and pleading on my part she finally caved and said “O.K. we’ll check on her.” ~ As it turns out the solution was to send the office sect’y down to my friends work to observe her!
The LPN called me and reported that the sect’y said that my friend appeared to be OK at work. Again, really? How many people do you hear about that finish their work and THEN kill themselves? Plenty! And I told her as much.
I also made it abundantly clear that if my friend killed herself simply because “It’s a small town, and we have to live here” I would personally see to it she was held accountable. …Yes. I was very snotty. But hey~ This person was ready to end it all.
So, after another few days of my friend mentally and physically wasting away, I did something totally against the rules. And definitely a breech of confidence and Dr/patient privilege… I asked MY doctor if I gave her a name, could she look her up and find her primary Dr and please pass along what was happening.
Thankfully she did. Bless her for doing it! My friends primary Dr had her come in Immediately and changed her medication. As it turns out my friend ended up needing counseling after the ordeal.
But she made it. She has since gained weight back and seems to be back on track. It has been a long road for her, though.
The clinic staff made it a point to let her know exactly who ‘turned her in.’ Needless to say, I became an instant social pariah for doing the right thing. because “It’s a small town”. and because I had the nerve to hold a person who could have made a difference much sooner accountable for inaction.
That being said ~ While I still mourn the loss of my dear friend, I would do it all over again if I had to.
I still have to wonder WHY small communities want you to know about signs and prevention if everyone is afraid to “Be the bad guy”. I’d much rather be the bad guy and know my friend is alive able to be a mother and wife and almost herself again, rather than the alternative.
If just one person reads this and makes a difference…