Being an advocate for living a fulfilling life, and making therapists a funk load better at what they do.
I get these calls from time to time.
Phone rings, normally Sunday morning or I get a very sketchy messenger.
They tend to be abrupt straight to the point and just lay it out.
“I cant do this anymore”.
Or phone call … ..Amanda Speaking ..
“I just I’m done’ I cant go on”
Me on the other end.
Inside my head does one thing.
I don’t panic I let my body relax. I give myself the if I was the last person they ever speak to picture. And then think what would I want them to know about living.
I’ve had a few of those conversations looking someone square in the eyes, holding their hand knowing my eyes are the last they will see, this is the last conversation they will hear.
My hand is the last they will hold. I am as close to the last memory of being alive, as they will have to being human.
It has really sets me up for this conversation, the chances are if they are going to kill themselves I can’t stop them.
So why ring me?
To check they have got it right.
So back to the conversation above?
“I just, I’m done’ I cant go on”
Ok, now before you go on I need to check something. Because I want to make sure you are doing this absolutely correctly. It’s the responsible thing to do. In my family we are experts at suicide you see. In my family we get it right first time
Seeing as your calling me I should make sure you get this right. I have great experience at being an expert in this, obviously I’m not dead. I lived closely to an expert who is.
My mum absolutely nailed it.
She was an expert at suicide.
Silence on the othe end of the line..
Can I just check this is important.
Getting it right is important, I want to know you are absolutely certain you are doing it right..
Have you thought about whether you will be cremated or buried..?
Well that’s important do you know?
I haven’t thought about it.
Do you want a procession cars, a horse drawn carriage or motorbikes?
Or is everyone walking? Much more somber that way.
Looks very stately.
Did you know you can have motorbikes?
“A confused sound, silence followed by laughing”
I keep going …
I know a great place in London where you can get a coffin painted in bright colours it’s super cool like day of the dead…
More laughing… and exhale…Maybe relief…
I would like to know, have you thought
about your plans. If you are going to do this, the least I can do is support you to make a decision you are happy with.
Well…. I hadn’t thought about any of that.
No, why not..
I just hadn’t
And now you have, because we want to get this right.
It would suck to have to do all this planning and have to do it again!!!
So horse drawn or motorbike procession..
Starts laughing and laughing … Motorbikes ..
Hey this is serious, this is your life.
I’m laughing now …
Can I speak to you tomorrow, let’s start there.
Ok that would be good you dont mind.
I would love to talk to you again. Tomorrow
It seems utterly crazy and I’ve done that call a few times now, I absolutely do not try to talk them out of their thinking ever.
I am someone that classically hated authority. So if someone said No, I would just push harder. I dont want to drive them towards an abrupt end of their life.
Being helpful and good at suicide is the last thing they are likely to expect. And I KNOW they haven’t had that conversation.
I mean who has that conversation right!
I’ll tell you who, No one.
No matter what is going on getting them thinking differently even for a second counts, it leads to newness and a new conversation leads to new thinking.
And that new thought well it might be enough to raise a moment of connection, humaness hand holding, eye contact. Laughter. Togetherness.
I know they are torn one part of them wants out another part isnt sure.
I need to convey a message of uncertainty and reach the part of them that wants out.
How, by asking it how well its prepared.
Now I know I’m talking in parts. But this is a split decision stay or go. If it wasnt I wouldn’t have the call in the first place.
I avoid creating resistance. That will lead to distrust and trust is essential right now.
I want them to know I am on their team, I’m not in the way and what ever they are thinking it’s their choice. Even in this moment empowerment counts, selfesteem counts.
Being at peace with their choice it counts. I may be the last person they ever speak to at least I know it was a great conversation.
Belly laughing, any laughing counts…
Certainly closes off options in the thinking world, uncertainty creates opportunity to come up with a creative alternative.
What ever you may think and I know it’s going to be thought provoking.
Conversations about death and dying will always make.us think.
I can think of a group of people who didn’t kill themselves after this conversation.
For that I am greatful to the expert in my family.
Better conversations matter.