His name isn’t really Daniel. Life is not that apropos. I like to call him that because I like to think that it is.
I’d like to think life is more than it is, but I totally depressed myself with my last post. You see, the last good thing I have going for myself is the belief that my job here at the psychiatric emergency department, talking people out of suicide, is worthwhile and, when I convince myself that it isn’t, then the noose I have in my drawer looks pretty good.
It used to be that saving lives gave my life meaning, but if all life is meaningless and everything deteriorates anyway, then what’s the point?
I actually took my noose out to see how it looked. I tested its strength by stepping on one end and pulling on the other. Many of the failed suicides I see tell me that the noose slipped. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, I am, after all, a former boy scout and ought to know how to tie a knot. This one wasn’t going to slip. I was sure of it. It looked pretty good.
It’s strange to be able to say that something that will kill you looks good. We are, after all, supposed to be terrified of death.
I can say that, as I was testing the strength of my knot, I was not terrified of using it. I was, however, afraid that I would change my mind once I set about to use it. That’s the second thing I had to worry about. Based on the reports of the failed attempts I have interviewed, it is a very difficult thing to take one’s own life, even when one wants to, because one must still overcome the instinct of self preservation. Most successful suicides have practiced overcoming that instinct time and time again before they got past it, schooling themselves to disregard the impulse to survive.
Either that or they liquor themselves up so they can’t think about anything.
I had the benefit of neither, for I have not had any prior failed attempts, nor have I become intoxicated. I have, however, thought about it a lot, rehearsing in my mind the steps towards completion and the relief it would give me from my hopelessness.
I was lost in these thoughts, sitting in the psychiatric assignment office (PAO), gazing at my noose, when the triage nurse came in without knocking.
“Ready?” she asked.
At first I thought she was asking whether I was ready to commit suicide. She must have seen the noose in my hand. I looked at her blankly.
“Are you ready to see the patient? He’s ready to see you. He thinks you’re going to let him go and he can’t wait to get out of here and back to his lions.”
“Oh, him; I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I am sure she saw the noose in my hand and the resolute look I had on my face, for she did not intervene. She must have taken my answer to mean that I planned to be alive in a few minutes to see the patient, my way of contracting to safety, otherwise she would have taken the noose away from me and got the police that had brought Daniel in to have me arrested under the mental hygiene law. She is a triage nurse, after all, and trained to separate all problems into three categories: the ones of no immediate risk, the ones that no immediate intervention would save, and the ones that would most profit from treatment. She must have put me in the first group, concluding that I wasn’t going to kill myself right away. Not until after seeing Daniel first.
Either that or she put me in the second group, figuring me for a hopeless case, where I put myself.
She may have simply failed to put two and two together, thinking: no PAO is going to kill himself right in the PAO office. I couldn’t have been thinking of using a noose on myself, I must have confiscated it from a patient. Some people just don’t appreciate delicious irony. I guess it’s an acquired taste.
The next thing I noticed was that I was relieved that she hadn’t intervened. Many suicidal people just want someone to stop them and show them they care, using the life-or-death drama as a kind of test. I was glad to see I was not one of those. That was another thing I was worried about, that I didn’t mean to kill myself.
I was ready. There was no time like the present. The last time I was at this point, I had let myself get distracted by a patient that had come in. I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
I had to build a set of stairs out of phone books and files to hoist my fat ass up on the desk. This’ll be better than going on a diet. I took a few minutes to catch my breath. I thought about saying a few things before I left, but there was nobody there to hear them. I skipped saying a prayer to that silent God; two can play at that game. I chucked my rope over the suspended ceiling, tied a good bowline, and just stepped off the desk before I could change my mind.
Down I went, falling heavily to the floor. The ceiling came down with me. Also falling with me was Daniel.
- Doctors, Patients, and Suicide: Symptoms of a “Sick” Society (bipolarblast.wordpress.com)