Yesterday my mum got a message from a friend saying her cousin who lives in KL was having suicidal thoughts.
As I am a licensed counselor, I asked her friend a few questions to know in what mental state that her cousin is in. We spoke over the phone and she told me her cousin (let’s use the name Janet as a pseudonym) experiences delusions (she thinks her neighbors are going to kill her, neighbors showing the go hang yourself up sign, she’s being super paranoid and that she is in critical condition) and she lives alone in KL. I told my mom’s friend that this is out from my field as I’m only a counselor. So I called someone I know from the board of counselor, my lecturers and Befrienders for advice.
Befrienders could not help me as they don’t have a psychiatrist on the line.
The others advice me to go to the nearest police station because if I call 999, they would probably not act on the case. So the advice was to go to the police station nearest to Janet’s house so the police will take her to the hospital themselves. All i needed to do was gather information about her and let the police do the rest as this is out from my field. Besides it might be dangerous both to me and her if I myself go there as she was reportedly quite paranoid.
My parents accompanied me to the police station and i made the police report. The police asked me why I call earlier because it seemed like a serious case. So i told her what happened, and i repeated what my mom’s friend said and asked the police to go over with a psychiatrist because he would know best and this isn’t my field. I thought that I could leave after making the police report. However, the officer made a phone call and asked me instead to go over with the police and talk to her.
I emphasized that this is not in my field, I have no right to talk to her and that I did not want to talk to her. But the police urged me to just go.
I Googled the terms “psychiatrist emergency KL” and found Prince Court Hospital’s number and asked for advice. The receptionist was very helpful and told me that: “Pihak swasta tak ambil kes macam ni, cuba call goverment dan mungkin mereka boleh hantar psychiatrist.” I really appreciate that she also gave me the number for HKL. Unfortunately, HKL was less friendly. The receptionist just told me to call 999 because they will have a psychological team there. At this point in time, I’m outside Janet’s house with the police. We just didn’t do anything because i was on the phone trying to get advice from a psychiatrist and I didn’t want to be the one to approach Janet. Finally called 999 and managed to talk to someone from the psychological team. The lady who talked to me was quite rude and and unhelpful. She asked useless questions like what landmark is near by even though I had given the full address to her. Even when I said I don’t know, she urged me to find one. I passed the call to the police officer who spent time explaining where the home is. When the officer passed the phone back to me, the 999 responder asked me the same question again about where I was, and where Janet was. I was tired of saying the same thing over and over again. Finally, the 999 responder said this is a case for the police, not a psychiatrist, and since the police were there so they should just go in.
The police then went to the home. Janet appeared to be extremely thin and was very angry at me for showing up with the police. She told the police that everything was fine. I apologized to her and to the police. The police said so memandangkan semua okay, kami pergi dulu”. They also told me that they have been here 6 times already. Apparently Janet had called the police with complaints such as someone kacau her and that someone is going to kill her cat. The complaints are consistent with what my mom’s friend told me. But every time the police responded, she was calm and said “takde apa apa, everything is okay”. It appeared that nothing was done despite the repeated calls and nothing continues to be done.
As a counselor, I am discouraged by response of HKL and 999 responders. I did my best to get help but instead of getting the help I needed, it was an extremely frustrating experience. I really hope government sectors would take mental health seriously especially in emergency departments.
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