“Medic-40 copy code three.” The dispatcher’s abrupt call snaps me out of my otherwise boring day surfing the web on my iPad. It’s been quiet today – not too many calls have been getting sent out. Crews across the county have been sitting idle for the last few hours. Scottie is off today so I got assigned one of the float EMTs – we call that “mystery meat.” This is the first time I’ve worked with him and I got tired of listening to his diatribe six hours ago – so I’m happy to have a call.
“Medic-40, code three for you. 1055 Vincent St. for the 22 year old male with a noose around his neck. You’ll need to stage for this please. PD is en route.”
“Medic-40, ten-eight” (we’re en route). Plugging the address into my iPad I see that we’re only ten blocks away from the call. We’ll be there in just a minute.
Almost immediately the radio crackles again. “Medic-22, we’d like to jump that call for 40.” Finally something interesting to relieve the boredom of the day and everyone else wants a piece of it. I’m not sure where 22 is but we’re close enough to make it in stellar time and I really want something to break the monotony of the day. Not today guys.
“Medic-40, we’re pretty much on top of it, we’ll take the call. Thanks Medic-22.”
As we pull out of the parking lot where we have been sitting for the last few hours a fire engine screams past us headed towards the call – we pull in behind them with our lights and siren singing a duet. I like going to calls with the fire engine clearing traffic for us. People tend to clear out of the way a lot faster for the BRT than they do for a little ambulance. It’s like having a big brother who’s a linebacker clearing the hallway between classes in high school – we just follow along in the wake.
Two police cars pass us as we turn into the residential neighborhood and the BRT follows them straight to the house. So much for staging and waiting for police to secure the scene. I’m usually happy to stage and wait for police to call us into the scene – it’s safer. But in this case there are only a few possible outcomes; the person is dead and has been for a while, he just hung himself and cutting him down now could save his life, or it’s complete BS.
As we get out of the rig the firefighters are headed into the house with their bags. We decide to just walk up and see what’s going on before pulling the gurney and equipment out. Walking to the front door a woman exits the house with her hands covering her face, crying. I step through the front door and into the living room to an officer coming down the stairs with a young man in handcuffs.
The officer comes over to us. “He wasn’t hanging; just lying on the bed with a noose around his neck. He said he wanted to hang himself but couldn’t find anything to tie the other end of the rope to. We’ll have a green sheet for you in a few.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
- Over 34,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
- In 2007 (latest available data), there were 34,598 reported suicide deaths.
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States (28,628 suicides).
- Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
- A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States.
- Every day, approximately 90 Americans take their own life.
- Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
- There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
- There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides for every suicide death.