LAST PERSON TO SPEAK TO THEM
Working in the Crisis Support Team is not easy. Sometimes, you are the last person a caller will speak to before they take their own life.
It’s a stark – although rare – scenario that his team has faced. There is an immediate debrief for the crisis worker.
“Quite often, they will break down. For those cases, you need more than one session and … we have our own counselling team. For such cases, we would ask one of our counsellors to do a direct session with that person,” John explained.
Usually, after the debrief, most people can recover, but some may need more support. If necessary, the team member may be taken off duty for a couple of days.
“Because if you’re not ready to take another call, because those can trigger you, then you shouldn’t. Meanwhile, you go for the counselling sessions. There’s no timeline.”
MEETING FAMILIES WHO LOST A LOVED ONE
The Crisis Support Team doesn’t only call people – they also have the harrowing job of meeting family members hours after a suicide.
After a death and when the police officers leave the scene, a team steps in to support those bereaved. It normally includes a crisis team member and a counsellor or volunteer.
John hasn’t forgotten the first visit he made – a young man who just started working had killed himself in the family flat one morning.
When he met the father hours later, the man had a “very visible” bruise on his forehead.
“He had been hitting himself on the wall in anguish before I arrived. He was in a very bad (state) … initially he was very reserved.
“But later on he started talking and he broke down. It was very vivid because his emotion was uncontrolled. He was crying … he basically didn’t care about his body condition.
“That was the kind of anguish he was going through – when a person cries until he doesn’t care about his appearance or what’s happening.
“When you see such raw emotions, then you realise whatever I’m feeling there and then is nowhere near the pain, the suffering that the father is going through. You begin to see how much hurt a death by suicide causes to a loved one.
“In a sense, we will almost never truly be able to feel what it means to lose someone like that. When you see the emotions, then you realise it’s very hard.”
For every suicide, SOS estimates that at least six people are left behind in grief.