Amid all the ongoing brouhaha about phone hacking and journalists paying cops paying journalists, I think a lot of people are forgetting that most cops are good people doing a job that veers from mundane to terrifying to tragic, often in one day, and that most journalists, serious ones anyway, are doing a difficult and demanding job as well as they can.
Chris Hughes and Colin Freeman are two reporters who have put their own lives at risk to report on Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, and Inspector Gadget (author, lest we forget, of Perverting the Course of Justice – now also available as an iBook) has an excellent thread going on his blog at the moment. It’s about suicide, and there are some interesting and very moving comments from (one assumes) police officers who have attended these events:
Those jobs are the ones that stay with you the longest. I dealt with one that was done by fire not hanging. I can’t imagine what they went through for the seconds before the pain stopped registering. We had to use the car extinguisher on them as the fire was so intense…
I went through the trauma councelling and everything and it helped, but will never remove it from my mind.
Its come back to me in high definition a few times since and is triggered by the most bizarre things…one day we might discover how the human brain works and be able to intercept the triggers more effectively. Until then, I guess we just carry on coping…
Good post Guv. Takes me back to one went too with a probbie. Hanging. Suicide thought had terminal illness. Result letter in mat confirmed he was wrong and kettle with a funny faux whistle was on in background. My parents had same kettle. Had to buy them a new one.
I used to think suiciders were selfish. I remember one old custody clerk telling me it was the cowards way out.
The old custody clerk gassed himself in a car 8 years later – stress over a woman..
I saw that corridor once – but I turned around before I stepped into it. I saw that door in the distance though – a bottle of scotch and a walk in the hills.
Seriously – genuine suicide cases are in a dark dark place where they see only one way out
I had a mother who hanged herself from the bannister while her 18 year old son and his girlfriend slept. She did it knowing that he would wake to find her. I had a doctor who took an overdose and went to lie under a kids slide on an adventure playground, knowing that it would be likely that kids would find her. Guess who found her.
My worst was a Dad who hung himself from the Sky dish in front of the patio doors. In his best suit.
Kids came down for breakfast in the morning and opened the curtains to see Daddy swinging in front of their eyes.
Guy had a table set outside with a photo of the missus and kids, a bottle of JD and the note all neatly arranged.
Me and my poor street duties bod had to wait with him for 2 hours before we could cut him down due to the slow CID response.
Speaking to the wife was awful. Never got to the bottom of it. Suspected it was down to debt.
Been to several hangings. One I attended with a good friend. Months later he copied that chap’s method when he took his own life. I think about that a lot.
(‘Mind the Oranges’)
I’ve had jumpers that have lived long enough for their families to say goodbye, and people under trains who have lived- including one guy who lost his legs but made an otherwise good recovery. When questioned after he didn’t feel low, and could not remember why he’d done it. The trick cyclists put it down to temporary insanity- like standing on the edge of a cliff and wondering what it’s like to jump- only the feeling was so strong he acted on it.
I attended a concern for male, after he’d text his wife to tell her goodbye. He had gone to a local bridge, sent his final text and then stepped out into the 90ft of air between the bridge and floor.
He never read the text she’d sent him back, It was still unread on his mobile phone when i found it.
I probably wonder as often as she does, if he had read it would it have made a difference?
Elderly lady leaves home one evening “Just off to Bingo- back about ten” But she wasn’t. Surfaced 5 days later, 6 miles away, in the river. Must have walked some distance from her bus to the water. How to ‘write up’ the Coroner’s report so he can steer the Inquest to “Open Verdict” and save the husband at least a little distress.?
I still think back to a particular suicide, a young man who gassed himself in his car. He’d driven to a remote spot, and left a note at home saying where he would be. Myself and a colleague found him. His car was taped up with miles of tape, and a hose pipe was fed inside. He sat inside inhaling the toxic fumes, no doubt staring at the pictures of his two lovely kids that he’d taped to the windscreen in front of him. He was in the process of writing them a letter, and you could see the pen line after the last word he wrote veer downwards to the bottom of the page, as the fumes took him to the place he wanted to go. The words were hard for me to read as in it he expressed his love for his children, who he would never see again.
The car smelt heavily of that sweet, toxic smoke from a car exhaust. I can still smell it and can still see the picture of his kids on his windscreen. That was 17 years ago, and I can’t shake that scene off.
(‘Ecky “Three Milestones” Thump’)
One of the messiest I have been to was in the Balkans a number of years ago where a young man had killed himself with a hand grenade (not a cry for help this one)
The interior of the shed where he had done the deed, to coin a phrase looked like a slaughter house….his 8 month pregnant partner had walked in on it after she came home and could not find him.
She went into labour there and then and it is only due to the skills of the local ambulance crew and a doctor neighbour that there were not two more victims to add to the sad story
(‘As ex as ex can be’)
Sadly, and like so many in here i have dealt with too many in my time. The one that stays with me was a lad who took his own life. Not a very old guy at all, but when we dealt with him, his wife took us to a room which was lined with clay elephants. Perfectly moulded, hundreds of ‘em, clay elephants in all shapes and sizes – the guy was so talented it was amazing. I stood in that totally quiet room and felt sorrow like i’ve never felt before. The feelings were so difficult to take in that i still can’t adequately explain it. He had a beautiful wife, and great family – and, on the outside, so much to live for. We talked about his talent, and his wife said i could take one if I wanted. It felt wrong and ghoulish at the time, but I so wish i had done it now. He is the one that comes back to me time after time, and at every suicide scene. We can never understand what drives people to that point, all I know is that kid could have done so much. What an utter, utter shame.
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