I was covering reception for a few hours one morning as a favour and a client came in. He was obviously on some sort of high from God knows what drug. He was visibly shaking and anxious. The caseworker he wanted to see wasn’t there and that just made him more nervous.
I asked him if he would mind giving me just a couple minutes so I could see when she’d be arriving. He sat down. Temporarily. All of a sudden, he jumped up and pressed the button for the lift and left a few moment later.
I knew something was really wrong. Solely by instinct. That’s when I sent 2 people running after him.
He came back and finally accepted help. Otherwise I’m not sure he would’ve made it through the day.
I was terrified for him. And for me. But it wasn’t about me. It was about giving this individual what he needed. And I’m so grateful he’s going to be okay.
I learned, days later, that this person was woefully suicidal. My instinct was more than a little on cue, as I thought. Chances are he wouldn’t have made it through the day. But he gave the hints I needed so that I knew he wanted help without having to voice it.
Suicidality is something for which we all have some responsibility. We have to take care of each other. And we have to learn to listen. Not everything is said aloud.