Sometimes when we don’t hear from a patient for long, we’ll start worrying about them, especially if they are depressed, or worse, with suicidal caution. But too many patients come and go every day in the clinic, it could be difficult to remember everyone.
Sometimes I think we wouldn’t even know if and when a patient ends his or her life, unless we read it from the news or the family member contacts us.
Yes family member does contact us and tell us about the news when it happens, not all the time, but they do. And one main reason they usually call us and inform us regarding the patient’s suicide, is that they want to question us.
“He’s been taking the medicine prescribed by the doctor regularly, how did this still happen?”
“How come the medicine he was prescribed with wasn’t helping?”
“The last time when she went to your clinic, did doctor say anything? Did she say anything?”
Yes, I understand this and that (sometimes I think they just need someone or something to point their fingers at). But we’re only an outpatient clinic, all we can do is not much, though we do try our best including using phone calls or emails to reach and support them in their daily lives.
The sister was in tears when she called. The last time I heard from the sister was almost a year ago. She said he’s gone, their brother, the six sisters’ one and only brother. He jumped off from the balcony of an apartment.
They still couldn’t accept the truth.
And no, she didn’t call to question us, to blame it on us. She called to ask if she and the other sisters should come for an appointment as they are all feeling really low and depressed.
She was explained that they can certainly come for an appointment if they feel the need, but this is part of grieving, absolutely normal for people to feel depressed, guilty, lost, empty, angry … And the duration of this period could be few weeks, or even up to few years (some research suggested 4 years as an average of grieving period after losing a love one). Some people can function absolutely well during this period (though never take that these people are cold-blooded, they just deal with loss differently) while some need to take some time off or even go for professional counselling services or help.
Sometimes it’s the part that we often overlook – the needs of the immediate carers and family members of our patients – alive or dead.