quote:Taking Control…When It Seems Lost
Over the weekend, I learned that a friend committed suicide. Apparently he recently learned that his lung cancer, which had been controlled after aggressive treatment, was back and had spread. The doctor advised him to consider an aggressive round of chemo and radiation. According to his wife, he told the doctor that he wanted to take some time, talk to his wife and think about what he wanted to do as his last round of treatment was very difficult.
A day after learning this news, he shot himself.
As I thought about this, I wondered if something could have been done differently to help this man handle the news better and assist him in making an alternative decision. As healthcare professionals, we often are present when patients hear about life-changing news. Most people find a way to process the information and make decisions that allow them to take the next step. Most process this information in the privacy of their home with a member of their family or a close friend. In this case, our friend did talk to his wife about the news. But he still decided to end his life.
Thankfully, suicide is an alternative the vast majority of people do not consider. The question that keeps nagging me is, how can we as healthcare professionals recognize the signs that someone might be contemplating suicide and intervene in time?
I was not in the office with our friend when the doctor delivered the news. I am not blaming the doctor; he might have been very compassionate. But how could this suicide have been prevented? Then again, maybe this death could not have been prevented; sadly, maybe this was his way of regaining control in a situation that was out of control for this man. Maybe he simply did not want to go through the difficult course of chemo and radiation. Whatever his reason, we will miss him and feel for his wife and family who are left to handle the reality of his decision.
Now is the time to turn our support and compassion to the family and remember the memory of a very special person who touched out lives. Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
Have a good week.
By Anne Llewellyn, RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN Editor-in-Chief of Case in Point Magazine and the Case Management Resource Guide