As in a previous post, I worked in a Young offenders prison for a number of years. No two days, were ever the same and some were more, shall we say crazy than others. The testosterone was highly charged most days. You had to keep your eyes open and watch your back constantly. I did have fights in my class which naturally, I tried to break up. Baring in mind I am only five-two and most of the boys were five-five and above. I did tend to have blows thrown over my head. I was actually picked up one day and carried out of harms way, by one of the inmates. He told me that he didn’t want me to get hurt. I tended to be a mother figure to most, but I did come across a couple of boys that I would not like to be left alone with. In these instances the other boys were my support.
I do often think of one of the boys who was suffering with mental health problems. He was a resident in the hospital block. I visited most days and he was a very quick student. One day I visited him after he had attempted to commit suicide the previous night. The nursing staff asked him if he wanted me to visit, to which he did. I was warned about the state of his room prior to seeing him. When I go to his cell I was taken by surprise. He didn’t look good and neither did his room. Blood was smeared on the walls and the dressings on his wrists were stained, were blood was seeping through them. He had also got red marks around his neck from his attempt to hang himself.
Sucking in a breath I sat with the boy, discussing the work he needed to do, to prepare for an exam in computers. I let him work for a few minutes until the elephant in the room, got too big to ignore.
I asked him out right why he had hurt himself. He carried on working on the computer but answered me. He told me, the voices had told him. They kept talking and wouldn’t stop.
I asked him how he thought his attempt would make his mother feel. He went quiet for a moment before saying, “She would be upset.”
I told him that yes she would and he needed to tell the doctors. He told me that he was seeing someone later that day.
This young man was luck to survive his suicide attempt. He was later sectioned and sent to a prison with specialised staff that could deal with his Mental Health problems.
Sadly not everyone is so lucky. Mental health illnesses can be treated. It isn’t a death sentence. Find someone to talk to, Visit the doctor, speak to a friend or call the Samaritans.
If you know someone who is suffering with mental heath problems. Don’t ignore it. Help them! Take them to a professional who can assist them.