In November of 2010, we lost our 16-year-old son to suicide. Jesse was exuberant, sweet, friendly, and loving. He was also impulsive, angry, and intense. About a year before his death, after an argument with us over homework, we received a call from the ER at the local hospital informing us that Jesse had walked in and stated that he had taken an overdose of Advil. We rushed to the hospital and were there for several hours while Jesse was treated with activated charcoal to absorb the medicine.
The hospital had a psychiatrist come down to the ER to talk with Jesse and with us prior to releasing him. We assured him that we would follow up with a counselor and psychiatrist. In the moment, Jesse assured us that he had made a mistake and that he would never do such a thing again. But at no time did the hospital staff, or any mental health professional, ever inform us that this “suicide gesture” meant an increase in Jesse’s risk for a completed suicide in the future. We were never told that “a nonfatal suicide attempt is the strongest known clinical predictor of eventual suicide.” (American Journal of Psychiatry, March, 2004.)
I do not know if this information would have meant the difference in saving Jesse’s life. However, it might have influenced the choices Jesse and we made in moving forward. This is why we support House Bill 1140, sponsored by Rep. Matt Jones, asking hospitals to provide information about suicide (risk factors, danger signs, and sources of help) to family members or friends to whom a suicidal person is being discharged. HB 1140 is scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Environment Committee on Thursday, February 16. Please help this bill to move forward by contacting the Health and Environment Committee at 303-866-4789 and asking them to vote “yes” on HB1140
There is no way to bring our Jesse back, but perhaps HB1140 will be the difference for someone else’s son or daughter, sister or brother, mother, father, Aunt, Uncle or friend.
Andi Jason & David Simon