Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"A Cry For Help"

 The dispatcher radioed that there was a request for me to pick up at a local restaurant this afternoon. I often get  requests during the week from different people,so I had no idea who I was picking up.
When I arrived it turned out to be an old buddy of mine,a fellow I met when I first moved to town,some 20 odd years ago.
I usually run into Jake(not his real name) while sitting in the plaza waiting for a dispatch,he wanders over with his best four legged friend "Charlie" and we shoot the breeze for a while. Jake is on permanent disability,he suffers from seizures,the results of a street fight with 5  young punks about six years ago now.
Jake, like a lot of us, has had a pretty rough life,seven years of it, in and out of jail. But that and an addiction problem are long past . He has played it straight for several years now. Still a tough looking dude with a lot of ink,he is in his forties now and a pretty mellow guy,one that would give you the shirt off his back.
As he got in my cab today,I realized I hadn't seen him for a week or so,I asked him where he had been.
He told me he had just been released from the psychiatric ward in a city hospital. He had attempted suicide a few days ago,ingesting a 150 prescription pills. He was found by his landlord laying unconscious  on his kitchen floor. He was in a coma for two days,and at one point the doctors apparently thought they had lost him. Thankfully that was not the case.

Jakes attempt at ending his life shook me to the core.Here is a friend that I see almost everyday,some one that over the years has shared his life story with me , as I have shared mine with him. But I never saw this coming.I knew he struggled at times with living alone and not being able to work,but I obviously never saw the depth of his emotional pain.
When I asked him today why he had done it,his reply was that "he couldn't take it anymore".Life had beaten him down and "he was unable to get any help". Professional help in the form of psychiatric care or even properly trained mental health therapists, is sorely lacking in this town. 
Jake is now under a psychiatrists care ,and it appears that he will finally be getting the help he needs, but having come close to losing his life in order to get it is appalling!