Monthly Archives: March 2019
What do you do when someone you know is suicidal and the response you get from local healthcare is “It’s a small town-we don’t want to get involved if we don’t have to”?
Ok- I KNOW this is controversial. I also know that many will say “It can’t happen here“. Or worse “Why did you interfere?” I am also aware that by sharing my thoughts on this, I may be blackballing myself for life from Hubbs hometown.
No- I will not name places or proper names.
But you know what? If nobody talks about it, nothing changes!
When we moved to the country, I became friends with ‘Joanie’ (henceforth my friend will be “Joanie”) and later business partners for a while. I always knew she was diabetic and had anxiety, but a person who didn’t know her would never have guessed.
A number of years ago Joanie had some of her medications changed. In a matter of weeks she had lost a ton of weight and couldn’t focus on tasks for very long. Even more concerning was her hallucinations- She had begun believing she had just delivered twins and was some very crazy thoughts about her hubby. She even offered to let me babysit!
I figured she would go for a follow up and her Doctor would notice something was off.
Another week goes by and Joanie is giving away things and saying “It won’t matter at the end of the week” and “I don’t need it where I’m going”.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Warning Bells are going off.
I tried talking to her about it, but she quite obviously thought nothing was amiss. Her husband was indifferent to it all- (Theirs wasn’t exactly a stellar relationship)
So I did the next best thing, or so I thought. I called the local clinic. That’s where most of us who live out in the country go for routine bloodwork and stuff. I spoke to the head nurse, who also knew Joanie personally. I told her what I suspected and the response was
“We really don’t want to get involved if we don’t have too. We still have to live here.”
WHAT?????? Was she joking??
Nope- she really meant it. She was uncomfortable getting involved because of it turned out to be a false alarm, she would be very uncomfortable around town. This nurse also asked me if I had tried talking to her husband. Yep.
I explained that she had recently had some medications changed.. I even offered a solution- Couldn’t she call up Joanie and say something like “Gee, we dropped your last vile of blood, can you pop by real quick and let us take some more?” My thoughts were if they could get her in there, they could evaluate her kinda on the sly.
But she did offer to send their secretary down to Joanies work to observe her. To which I (probably snarkily) replied along the lines that plenty of people finish the days work just fine before jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
I called back that afternoon, and was told that they didn’t have time for this and that she looked fine. In no uncertain terms I let it be known that if something happened to my friend, that I would be shouting it from the roof tops and naming names.
Obviously things were not fine.
The next day Joanie said it would ‘all be done by Friday’ and she was ‘only sorry to be leaving her (make-believe) babies behind’. Only a couple days away.
So I took drastic and probably unethical measures- I telephoned my personal Doctor and asked if I gave a name could she please look up that persons physician and pass the information along. I also shared my futile attempts in a small town to get her help.
Now- I knew full well at the time that there’s is DR/Patient confidentiality… But I was hoping my doctor would try anyway.
And my Doctor did.
Joanie’s doctor made some excuse to get her in… just in a nick of time it seems. It was indeed the change in medications was causing her to lose weight and think irrationally. Joanie ended up in therapy for a bit, but eventually found her way back.
Me? Well- I was immediately taken to task by locals for ‘Sticking my nose where it didn’t belong’ and “Didn’t I know how much TROUBLE the clinic was in now???”
Like I gave a shit. Suicide is rising in rural areas. There is always talk about speaking up if you think someone is suicidal.
Given what happened in this small town, I think there are many that won’t speak up because they have to live here. This has bothered me for years. We need to change that part of Small Town Mentality. “Because we live here” is the perfect reason WHY we should speak up.
Personally I didn’t give a rip what anyone thought. Joanie’s life was more important than me being black listed.
Which I was. For YEARS.