By Karen Kosman:
(Excerpt from: Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors used with permission by New Hope Publishers.)
When people are clinically depressed and even suicidal, they don’t necessarily want to die. Often a suicide attempt is a plea for help.
I awoke early one morning with heart arrhythmias. Not again, I thought. Having suffered with this condition for years, I found myself slipping into thoughts of self-pity. Why me? I reached over and woke my husband, “John, I’m in a-fib. You need to drive me to the hospital.”
A short time later, I found myself flat on my back on a gurney, staring up at the ceiling in the ER.
Before another cycle of self-pity hit, I heard my doctor talking to the man in the next cubicle. “Sam, wake up. Have you been depressed? I need to know what you took.”
Quickly my focus changed from my situation to the suicidal man who attempted to take his life, God, please be with Sam, I prayed silently.
I knew all too well the devastation of suicide. I’d lost a son to suicide. God had carried me through difficult times and had brought compassion into my heart for those struggling with depression.
Moments later Dr. Ervin stood by my bedside.
“Karen, your heart rate has slowed, but you are still in a-fib. We’re going to move you across the hall to another section of the ER. You’ll be more comfortable there.”
“OK,” I replied.
With my husband by my side, I was rolled through two large doors and down the hallway into the next section. Moving from the gurney to the bed while tubes tangled from my body wasn’t easy.
A nurse assisted me. “Hi. My name is Jill.” Something shimmering around her neck caught my eye—a cross. Her brown eyes sparkled as she said, “You’re going to be OK.”
“I know.” I answered, staring at her cross.
Looking over at Jill, my husband said, “Karen is an author. She has to finish the book she is working on.”
Jill squeezed my hand and said, “So we need to get you well.”
A short time later I heard Jill tell another nurse, “She’s going to be OK. God sent her here for a purpose, besides encouraging me.”
I knew they were talking about me because I was the only patient on that side of the ER. I smiled. Again I thought about Sam and prayed, Lord, please help Sam. Help him to know you have a plan for his life.
A whooshing noise erupted as the doors opened, and a gurney appeared. I recognized the patient as the man who had been next to me in the other section. Again, the nurse and doctor asked Sam questions. I watched, listened, and prayed.
The doctor moved away from Sam’s side and walked over to the nurse’s station where he studied the monitors. Then I heard him say, “Looks like her heart rate is normal.” Moments later he stood by my bed and said, “You just converted back.”
“You mean I can go home?”
Jill walked in smiling and said, “I knew you’d be OK.”
“Thank you for all your help. May I speak with Sam?”
“OK, but officially I don’t know about this,” Jill replied as she unhooked my monitors and IV.
I got dressed and walked to the other side of the room, closing the curtain behind me. I found Sam unconscious, but I trusted that he’d hear me.
“Sam, I’m not a nurse, I’m a patient, too. I wanted you to know that you are going to be OK. I know the heartache of depression, and I lost a son to suicide. I’ll be praying for you. God has a great plan for your life if you choose to live.”
His hand moved, although his eyes didn’t open. The next thing I knew his hand lay in mine. I smiled because I knew he’d heard me. His eyes fluttered but remained shut.
What a strange day, I thought. Who’d have guessed that a trip to the ER could be so full of promise and encouragement?
Suddenly, I remembered my question upon waking with an irregular heartbeat. Why me? And I realized that my question had been answered through the thoughtfulness of a nurse and a man named Sam who needed someone to care.
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jeremiah 17:14
Thank you, God, for giving me a glimpse into your emergency room.
You may find the following video helpful. Tamara Laroux: Surviving a Suicide Attempt: