Last week, another report. The privileged elite assuming authority and power to proclaim insight for why I stood in front of an oncoming van.
Tosh. To their questions. To their answers to their own questions. To their ‘facts’ and to their reading of what needs to be done.
Tosh, After reading a 68 page report on suicide.
Tosh, to recommendations to reduce suicide by altering the physical environment.
One of the recommendations was extra tosh: for providers to extend their ligature reduction duties beyond the four walls of the ward – Trying to work in surrounding areas to prevent people climbing to ‘high places’ so as to swan dive. Tosh. Dangerous tosh.
(The van, remember? The van came round the corner…)
Can you know why I stood in the road? Can you know that I would have taken my life in a ‘high place’ or a ‘low place’? By a road? Or a track? From a tower? By pills? By gun…
Or why Lennie drowned himself. Three days after circling the small garden overlooking the cemetery stooping for dog-ends. “I’m not well. I’m not well, I’m…
Or why Steve hung himself in his own caravan, finding the easeful ligature of his own desiring. Three days after thumping his fist through the ward grilled windows, out of fury, out of damaged common sense, perfecting soon the art of taking his own life out of the broken circle of damaged trust.
(The van hit me)
I am not having it. I am not having these stilted reports on safety. These numbers, dead and ringing, making professorships of academics, people earning a living from the deaths of my friends. I am not having it – the pontification about safety, from those who exacerbate the problem by focusing on structural solutions, construction standards, containment and isolation.
What does safe mean to you? My relationship with myself – what my persecutory mind does to its injured fractured, fractious, fractal beautiful child-like spirit. The war and the pain that ensues and endures. I am not having it. That you are so obsessed with distance and cannot enter this.
(I was lying in front of the van. I saw the driver’s eyes as I blanked out)
What does safe mean to you? My relationship with others – with friends and family unable to understand, with them driven away by their own pain and guilt about what has happened to me, their inability to balance my need for them to stay, and my driving them away. With you – my beloved professionals watching on from a studious distance, who yearn to ease your own anxiety through isolating, containing, sending me from the public’s nervy gaze.
What does safe mean to you? My relationship with my environment – but look: the cold steel, cold brick, cold circling of eyes, the close observations, the windows, the looming presence of a nurse – how they gathers like vultures. You gave me a patch of green, or art therapy and imagine that a painting will take the place of my future and my dreams?
(I woke in an office. Tea with three sugars. Led back to the ward. They all watched)
I am not taking it any more – you do not understand at all. Tosh.
You cannot know. You cannot ask the questions that will lead you to answers if you do not know what safe means to me. You cannot continue to lie casually, when you do not know the question. Until we have power.
Until we have power to lead the inquiries, to have our own professorships granted to us by our experiences and expertise. Until we lead, and you follow…
Let us lead you by the nose to the field where we cut ourselves open, where we searched for the low or high places, where we listened out for trains the way some listen out for birds. You cannot know with the casuistry of your privilege and your high-flown assumptions.
You cannot know what it looks like to stare down the barrel of loss. I’m not taking it any more. Tosh.
(C) 2020 David Gilbert