One evening after work I was driving home and had stopped at a set of traffic lights on a busy Sydney north shore road. Out of nowhere this girl in her early twenties started bashing on my passenger window. I put down the window and asked, “What is wrong?!”. The girl screamed, “Please help me, please help me! My dad has hurt himself and needs help!” I realised very quickly that she was in need of some serious assistance. She had this look that I will never forget, a face full of sheer terror and panic…
I told her to get in and we sped down the road. The young girl was on the phone to her injured father at the time and was directing me where to go. We turned off the busy main road next to a sporting oval; I thought we might be about to find a man with a broken bone or having a heart attack. However, as we headed past the oval and down into the dark suburban streets I started to feel this situation was becoming a little bit strange. The girl kept saying “It will be okay dad, we’re coming, we’re coming”. After driving for another few hundred meters the girl screamed out “There it is! Stop”. I stopped instantly and watched her run over to her father’s car.
The car was a medium sized late model sedan. It was white and had significant hail damage on the panels and in this particular moment, the windows were all fogged up. I watched her open the driver’s front door and when she looked inside she let out the loudest high pitch scream of terror I had ever heard. She backed away from the car in pure shock; she could barely hold herself up. I jumped out of my car and rushed over to her. As I got to her, I caught a glimpse of what was inside. I saw a man in the front seat of the car. He had blood all over his white business shirt. He had significant neck wounds; it looked like he had cut his throat. His face was discoloured, dark and swollen. I felt like I was in a scene from a war movie.
I helped the young girl into the passenger front seat of my car, she was in complete shock and barely functioning. I got my phone out and called triple zero, handed it to her and said, “You need to get it together and get the ambulance here because I have to go and help your dad“. I went back over to the man in the car and when I got there he was handing me a pair of scissors. I thought he was being remorseful, wanting me to take away 'the tool' he had used to hurt himself. I took the scissors from him and told him to lie down. The seat was already reclined and it was in that moment I got a better look at his neck. He had put a large cable tie around his neck and had been trying to strangle himself. It was so tight it had ripped up the skin around his neck. He had clearly been trying to cut himself free.
The man had laid down and then I started to try and cut the extremely tight cable tie off his neck. Without being able to get the sharp part of the scissors to the cable tie I could only use the tips. It was like cutting with a butter knife and took for what felt like forever until I got the cable tie to release from his neck. After that everything happened so fast. Neighbours came out of their homes to see what was going on. I ended up back on the phone to the ambulance, as the girl couldn’t communicate where we were located. I stayed on the phone until the ambulance got to the scene. People were asking me what happened. The girl was in the gutter and in a bad way. People were tending to the man in the car and I was standing there with blood all over my hands trying to make sense of what had just happened.
I went into a person’s home and cleaned myself up. By the time I had returned most of the people had gone back into their houses. The man was now in the back of the ambulance receiving care. His daughter was standing in the street talking to a neighbour. She saw me coming down the street and as I came up towards them gave me a big hug and asked if I could write my number in her phone. Straight away she got into the ambulance and they drove away. Just like that, it was only me and one other guy left in the quiet dark street. It was the weirdest thing to go from a quiet drive home, to pure chaos, straight into absolute silence. I took a few breaths, composed myself sitting in my car for a few minutes and then drove myself home.
In the weeks that have followed, I have been through many mixed emotions. At various times feeling alone, sad, numb, happy, positive, grateful and even full of joy. I have been all over the place but not in a bad way. I now realise that when you are put into a situation and are forced to contemplate how sacred life is you are probably going to feel a wide variety of emotions. I feel it is a good thing because that is a big part of what makes us human. We live in world of relativity experiencing happy and sad, love and fear, hot and cold, life and death. Through this soul-searching, I have come to my own conclusion and feel that life is a choice. You can either work with it and learn and grow with its direction for you. Or you can shut yourself off to it and numb yourself into believing this is all that life has in store for me.
From now on I’m going to attempt as best I can to make a choice to choose life. Not just to go on breathing, eating, sleeping, going to work etc. I am going to choose to listen to my inner voice that keeps telling me I should do that, or I should try this. I believe my inner voice has been suppressed by me through my fear of what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. I am now going to choose to get real with it, in the moment and move forward together with life. Life is too precious. We can’t waste our time not becoming the best version of ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to not play ourselves as small. We came here to shine and this little light of mine, I’m going to let it do that.
If this story has triggered you, please reach out to Lifeline - 13 11 14. You are never alone.