The following is a true story.
In an emergency room one night, a 14-year-old girl is brought by ambulance following her attempt to kill herself by overdosing on some medication. Emergency room nurses and a doctor pump her stomach and ingest her with charcoal in an attempt to remove as much of the medication as possible. The attempt was successful. Now the girl and her father await a visit by a psychologist.
The ER, which has eight rooms, enjoys a lull in activity, but no one knows how long that lull will last. An Emergency Room Medical Technician goes from room to room checking on patients and restocking supplies. His last room is the one with the girl and her father. The ER Med Tech knows why she is there, but not why the girl tried to kill herself. Curious, the Med Tech strikes up a conversation with her.
“Hey, girl, how ya doing?” he asks. The telltale signs of charcoal surround her mouth like ice cream from a cone.
“Fine.” she replies, sheepishly. She is a pretty young girl.
“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? I mean, as an ER Med Tech, I am curious about all the patients that come here.”
“Sure, it’s okay.” The Med Tech pulls up a stool next to the gurney and sits down. He is aware her father is in the room with them, sitting on a chair against the wall.
“Why–why would you, such a young girl, want to kill herself?”
“My boyfriend broke up with me.” The Med Tech is shocked by her answer, but doesn’t show it. He quickly thinks of what to say, and hopes his conversation with her will not be misinterpreted to be an attempt at psychoanalyzing her. He just wants to help a 14-year-old through a difficult time in her young life.
“Girl–I’m sorry. May I call you by your first name? I don’t know it. My name is Thomas.”
“Sure. It’s Evelyn.”
“Hi, Evelyn.” He smiles at her. “Evelyn, you are only fourteen years old. My God, you’ve got your whole entire life ahead of you.” He pauses to organize his thoughts. “It is a natural human feeling to feel remorse over a break up or a hundred other reasons. You will probably have many, many more boyfriends before you fall in love and marry the man of your dreams. You will probably have a few more boyfriends even before you finish high school.” Evelyn smiles and nods.
“Then you will go on to college and have a few more boyfriends. Some of them you will break up with and some of them will break up with you. Some of them, knowing men the way I do because I am one and was young and stupid once, too, won’t really care about you, but will only want one thing from you, and I hope you will recognize that and drop them like a hot potato.” Evelyn chuckles and smiles. He continues.
“Everyone who ever lived from Adam and Eve to now has had heartbreaks; has experienced remorse for one reason or another. My mother passed away a few years ago, and I still feel sadness, because I miss her terribly. I’ve had my heart broken by a few girls, myself.” He glances over to her father then back at her. “I’m sure your father has had a few breakups while he was young before he met your mother. My ex-wife cheated on me while we were married, and when I found out I experienced the worst heartbreak I’ve ever known. I went through a great deal of sadness and grief before I managed to get over it and put it behind me.
“The one thing you have to understand is that grief, remorse will pass. It just takes some time. In your future another man will probably break your heart, although I really hope it doesn’t happen. But if it does, it is perfectly natural to cry, to grieve, and to get over it, but you will. If anyone had a reason to take their own life I certainly did when I found out about my wife cheating on me, but my life is not mine to take. God gave me my life. Only He has the right to take it. I knew eventually I would get over it and move on with my life.” The Med Tech looks down at the floor and pauses.
“Evelyn, your life is precious. It is mind boggling to think that in all of human history there never has been anyone like you in the past and will never be anyone like you in the future. You–me–all of us–are unique. We are made unique by God. Your life is very precious. You must not let anything in this life persuade you to take your life. Suicide, by the way, is an express train to Hell. It is an unforgivable sin. Nothing in this life is worth killing yourself. Do you understand what I am telling you?”
Evelyn takes a deep breath and nods, but says nothing. Again, she smiles sheepishly.
“I wish I could tell you that you will never be sad again; that you will never suffer a broken heart again, but I can’t and no one else can, either. It is just part of human life. But we must get past the grief and look forward; look ahead because there are still many, many happy moments, happy times, to come. Am I making any sense to you?”
“Yes. Thank you, Thomas. I understand. He just broke my heart, and I didn’t want to live anymore, but I understand what you are saying. I won’t ever do this again,” Evelyn said. Thomas smiled back at her and stood up, reaching his right hand toward her with his fingers clenched except for his pinkie finger, which he extended.
“Will you make a pinkie promise to me that I won’t ever see you here again for this reason?” Evelyn used her right pinkie finger to grab Thomas’ pinkie and squeezed.
“Yes, I promise.” They continued the pinkie grip for a few seconds.
“Okay. You promised! Don’t break it, okay?”
“Okay,” she said with a big smile. He patted her on her right shoulder and leaned forward to whisper to her.
“You look kinda funny with that charcoal around your mouth–kinda like a toddler who just enjoyed an ice cream cone.” Evelyn laughed.
“Can you wash it off?”
“Here, let me give you a wash cloth and a small towel. Some of it will come off, but not all of it right away. It will be gone tomorrow after you take a hot shower. Just don’t look in a mirror.” Thomas chuckled with her at that.
After giving Evelyn a washcloth dampened with warm water and a hand towel, he turned to leave the room. Evelyn’s father had not said a word, but looked at Thomas with an approving smile as he stood up
“You have a good night, sir,” Thomas told him. Her father nodded. They shook hands, and Thomas was pleased that her father gave him a firm handshake, not a limp fish handshake.
Thomas never saw Evelyn again. He didn’t know if what he said to her would make a difference in her life, but he hoped it would. He selfishly hoped she would always remember him and their conversation. He hoped she would live a long and happy life.
I know this is a true story—because I am that Emergency Room Medical Technician.
Wherever you are, Evelyn, I hope you are very happy.
- Where Do I Find Help for Someone Who Is Suicidal? (everydayhealth.com)
- 12-Year-Old Girl Commits Suicide Because Of Bullying In School (finixblog.wordpress.com)
- Fathers form group to tackle suicide in Northland (radionz.co.nz)