A most memorable message was sitting on my desk one morning. Mrs. G left a brief message: “why did my husband kill himself this morning?”
Startled, I reviewed the man’s history. I had seen Mr. G in my urology clinic for the last several months. I recently realized that his complaints were referable to painful renal colic.
Anticipating a tortured phone call I replayed my memories of the man. I could only recall that Mr. G spoke with an Italian accent, and that he explained himself in a manner that was very hard to follow, a manner which seemed due to more than just a language barrier. He struck me as a man burdened by obsessive nature, with unrelenting questions over and over concerning his case. For several months his history rambled, and I admit in retrospect that I did not even know the nature of his primary complaint, until just before his untimely death. I realized, though sadly my insight occurred just before his death, that he was complaining of intermittent episodes of flank pain which proved to be secondary to kidney stones, the recurrent episodes of pain known as renal colic. I was happy; his problem was common, and while painful episodes might occur in the future, I knew the problem and I knew how to treat this.
You notice that I said, I knew the problem and how to treat this; his suicide by gunshot wound to the head proves to me that: he did not know the problem or how to treat this. Those who commit suicide, I believe without exception, have severe pain, similar in magnitude to renal colic, which along with child birth produces the most severe physical pain. In addition, suicide victim s have no answer for these episodes of pain; they see only intolerable pain plaguing their future life.
I missed the magnitude of the emotional pain these recurrent, excruciating episodes caused Mr. G. I did not consider the emotional insecurity that must surround the severe, unpredictably recurrent nature of passing kidney stones. I believe I did not explain the origin, commonality, nor the treatable nature of his condition to this man.
The insecurity associated with unrelenting emotional pain is the common scenario seen with suicide. I did not appreciate this at that time. My life was different then, I had never come to that distraught and defeated point in my own life. Seeing a Mr. G today, I might have picked up his pain; I might have made a difference.
Blessed in the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life… James 1:12 NIV
This scripture answers this question for the those who considering suicide. Many years later I am still haunted by this man, and whether I could have made a difference.
Posted 19th February 2007 by SPages