Saturday, June 4, 2011

Onlookers (including first responders) watch man commit suicide

A few days ago I was looking through yahoo news and ran across the following headline '‘Handcuffed by policy,’ fire and police crews watch man drown'. After that headline, I had to find out what was going on. Apparently, Zack, a 52 year old man, had waded into the water to commit suicide. First responders were called to the scene but because of budget cuts that had ended the land-to-water rescue program they were not allowed to intervene (see this video for more information)

From the article: Officials blamed a departmental policy, stemming from budget cuts, that prevented them from jumping in to save him. Procedure trumped the help that was needed. This was a human being obviously attempting to commit suicide yet first responders and beach goers stood by and watched him wade into the water. According to witnesses he kept looking back at the beach where the people were watching him from.

I have never been suicidal and I hope I will never be able to understand why anyone would feel so terrible that taking their own life seems like the only way out. I have seen L so depressed though that to him it seemed the only solution. We have dealt with several suicide attempts on his part, not to mention the times when he was 'just' suicidal without attempting. Talking to him during those times only can offer a glimpse into what is going on inside of him then.

Now try to imagine feeling at your worst as it is, feeling that there is no way out other than ending your life. That nobody cares enough to help. And your feelings are suddenly validated by the fact that the people sworn to rescue and protect you are just standing around doing nothing. Nothing at all. What if just going out in the water close enough to talk to him could have saved his life? I am not even trained to do anything like this but I cannot imagine just standing there and not even ATTEMPTING to help. At least go into the water to try to talk to him. Let him know that there ARE resources available to him. That people CARE.

Are you in crisis? Are you feeling desperate, alone or hopeless? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

* Call for yourself or someone you care about
* Free and confidential
* Available 24/7


Chelle said...

I have been that suicidal and felt that no one would come looking for me if I did try. I've been that suicidal as recently as two weeks ago. The idea that I would wade into the water and nobody would even try to talk to me is mind boggling.

I hope that incident will at least wake up the people in whatever place that was and change the law. That is absolutely unacceptable. That man probably felt totally abandoned by everyone. How awful for him and for the people who stood there - how could they just stand there???? I don't understand. It's basic human nature to try to help, right? Not one person tried to talk to him, even that didn't work for the police? I couldn't do that either and I hope that never, ever happens again.


GB Girl said...

This is unbelievable. I just don't understand why no one tried to help him. Budget cuts are one thing. Complete disregard for human life is another.

I work for a suicide hotline and mobile crisis team that responds to various situations, some involving suicidal clients attempting to take their own lives. I can't imagine watching this man in the water for an hour and doing nothing. I can't imagine first responders doing nothing.

It's appalling. How horrible it must have been for that man, seeing all those people and having no one reach out to him.

Thank you for sharing this story. It really brings up some very interesting topics. I plan to share it with my coworkers today. I'd love to get their feedback on it.

Kris said...

@GB Girl, I would love to hear back from you on your coworkers reactions on this.

Faycin A Croud said...

I have fairly high suicide ideation more days than not. I have made suicide attempts. Now, if I went to the ER every time I had a suicidal thought, I'd have to just live there! However, I know the difference between ideation and actual planning.
As to this incident that is disgusting. How nobody would reach out and help this guy at all I'll never know.

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