Today I had an interview with the Samaritans.   Tonight I recieved a phone call from them telling me that I had been accepted as a listening volunteer and inviting me to attend their training sessions.

But something that has been bothering me since the interview is that I told them a lie in answer to one of their questions.  The interview was very good.  It was professional and efficient but in an informal and relaxed kind of way.  The two people who sat on the panel were lovely.  They were listening volunteers themselves so I knew I was in good hands.

The interview lasted forty-five minutes and during that time I was asked a lot of questions.  Many of the questions were predictable and I was well prepared.  Many more questions came as a surprise but still, I managed them.  For instance, because they knew I had children, they asked me how I thought I’d feel if a caller told me he was a child abuser.  I must admit I was shocked but I answered as honestly and as openly as possible, telling them that I would feel distressed in such a situation but that I was sure the training would prepare me well enough to handle the call appropriately.  They seemed to like this answer.

Then they asked me if I’d ever had any direct experience of suicide, either through being suicidal myself or by knowing someone who had committed suicide.  This question stumped me.  I don’t know why it stumped me.  In retrospect I should have expected such a question.  It was obvious.  But I didn’t expect it and I said no.  That was my lie. 

Once, someone I loved dearly took a paracetamol overdose and died.  It was traumatic and dreadful and horrid and tragic and heartbreaking and I went through all the emotional turmoil you could expect … the guilt, the anger, the shame, the regrets, the ‘if only’s’, the blaming myself, the bad dreams.  In all, the usual grieving process of events but with the added burden of suicide.  I loved this person with all my heart and this person loved me equally.   No, actually.  She loved me more.  I still love her and there’s rarely a day goes by when I don’t wish I could go back in time and change things. 

There are very few people in my ‘real’ world who know how this person died.  I’ve always chosen not to tell people, partly perhaps because I feel a kind of shame – that somehow I failed her and, selfishly, that her suicide might reflect badly on me.  And partly bcause I am protecting her from being wrongly judged as a weak person.  Because she wasn’t weak and I will absolutely not allow this to be said. 

Dear blog-friends, if this post is making you uncomfortable, please don’t feel obliged to think of some sympathetic or supportive comment to make.  I’m really ok about it.  It’s just that I am confused and somewhat perturbed to realise that when the Samaritans, of all people, asked me if I’d had any experience of suicide, I was unable answer honestly.

And it has opened up a small can of wrigglies.  The fact that I couldn’t tell the truth to the Samaritans, who after all, deal with suicide on a daily basis, does beg the question . . . do I still have undealt-with issues?  And if I do still have hang-ups, how can I expect myself to be of any use to suicidal callers?

So, back to the drawing board on the Samaritan journey.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Hi earthPal,
    do you think anyone committing suicide is a weak person?

    Only when a person, who has the mental “capacity”, reaches a state where continuing life becomes completely meaningless will do so.

    I do not think they are weak, I feel it takes a lot of courage to go through with it.

    Dr Kelly, he wasn’t weak. I think he was a very brave man; who took his life, and in his own way made sure the world knew of the wrongdoings of the government.


  2. The human being’s decisions – above all those really transcendental – are unpredictable. Suicides will never tell anybody of their intentions if by doing so these could be thwarted. We cannot therefore prevent them from happening, it is beyond our influence.

    In a way I think you respected the unsaid will of that dear person by not mentioning the case and its circumstances to the Samaritans. In your place I would have behaved likewise.

    She has been resting now for a time and deserves to be in peace for ever.

    You have my deepest admiration and consideration, believe me.


  3. I agree with everything Jose says. Some things are private and should be able to remain so. However you may choose to talk to one of the interviewers about her suicide. They will understand and this may help you before you begin volunteering with the Samaritans.

    Well done earthpal on reaching the next stage of your journey.


  4. Littel Indian, you are so right. I don’t think people who take their own lives are weak. Like you, I think they are actually brave.
    Jose, thank you. I think you’re right. I’ve always havd a quiet belief that this person wouldn’t want everyone to know the circumstances and that’s partly why I don’t tell anyone. She is at peace now and she deserves it. Life wasn’t easy for her. She was financially well provided for but we all know that this means nothing.
    Matt, yes, I was thinking the same thing. And I have also been (re)thinking that I’m probably actually well qualified to listen to suicidal callers, that maybe my own experience will help me to support others.
    Thanks for the kind words folks. This is good therapy. Lol.


  5. Posted by GeekyBG2 on September 27, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Hiya GeekyBG1,

    Brave little article babe. Well done you.
    Always the strong one. See you in six weeks at work.

    Love ya chux.


  6. Hi Geeky1. Thanks sweetie. Wasn’t easy to say.

    “Proper friends”

    Take care … xxx


  7. […] not sure if I’ve fully confronted my own little gremlin.  I don’t know if I’m just ignoring it or dealing with it in my own time . . . or […]


  8. perhaps talking about this in a more private setting with the appropriate samaritan as Matt suggested is the best advice. They will know how to better prepare you if they know about your experiences and emotions.


  9. Thanks Bindi. You are probably right.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: