Last week Amanda had asked me if it would be okay if a friend of hers from Long Island who has been over to visit several time before could come up for a couple of days this week. Apparently she's been having some trouble at home and wanted to get away for a little bit to sort things out. I said that would be fine so Amanda and her friend (we'll call her Karen) worked out the details and made their plans.
Just prior to Karen's arrival early yesterday afternoon I got a call from another of Amanda's friends from Massachusetts (we'll call her Nancy) who told me that Karen had apparently been reported as a missing person in Naussau County in New York by her parents. Turns out that she hadn't told them that she was coming up to visit and when they awoke to find her missing yesterday morning - along with a lot of her possessions - they called the police. The police in turn called Nancy as her parents knew her to be a friend. Additionally, Nancy was worried that Karen might be suicidal and was going to visit her other friends along the East Coast to say good-bye. I told her that I would have Amanda text her as soon Karen showed up (she was taking the bus) and she could then call the Nassau County police back and have them contact my local department to let them know that she was here.
Fortunately I still have a pretty good relationship with a lot of the officers at Norwich PD so when the responding officer arrived I met him outside and told him that Karen was here to visit Amanda but that we had no idea that she didn't have permission to be here. Amanda, in the meantime, was inside telling Karen that she had been reported missing and that the police had arrived. Greg, the responding officer, was a really nice guy and he was really good at talking to Karen about what was going on. When he told her that her parents were on their way up from Long Island to pick her up she completely broke down in tears as she apparently has some issues with her father. She said that he has threatened to kill her on numerous occasions and hit her and she was scared to go back with him.
Greg told her that she had a couple of options - she could go sit and wait at the Police Department or she could go to the local emergency room and wait there while getting the chance to speak to a doctor or psychiatrist about what was going on. He emphasized to her that she wasn't in trouble and she wasn't going to be arrested but because she was only 16 (another revelation to us as Amanda thought she was older) she didn't have many choices.
Karen opted to go to the emergency room so before long one of my ambulance crews showed up to take her over to the hospital. Amanda asked if it was okay for her to go with Karen and Greg said that would be a good idea as then she wouldn't have to wait alone. I told Karen that it was very, very important that she tell the doctors exactly what was going on so that she could get the help that she needed as if she didn't then things certainly weren't going to get any better for her at home. She said that she would while apologizing profusely for all of the trouble that she was causing. I assured her that it was no trouble at all and that I was glad she had come here rather than wandered around aimlessly somewhere else, I certainly wasn't angry about it, I was very concerned and wanted to see her get some help. Moments later she and Amanda were on their way to the hospital in the back of an ambulance.
While Amanda and Karen were at the hospital, I received another call from Nancy who told me that Karen had been texting her from the hospital and telling her that when she got out of the hospital that it was all going to be over sooner than she had originally planned. Apparently Karen had made a suicide pact with another friend and they were planning on killing themselves at the end of November once they'd had a chance to say their good-byes to their friends. Nancy wasn't sure what to do with the information so I told her that I would get hold of Amanda and have her talk to a nurse or doctor and pass the information on which I did and she did.
Finally, once Karen's parents arrived, the doctor came in to talk to her and Amanda called me from the hospital quite upset that she had been asked to sit in the waiting room rather than be with her friend. She had promised Karen that she'd be there for her and felt really bad that she couldn't be. I did my best to explain the patient confidentiality rules to Amanda and told her that I'm sure Karen understood that it wasn't that she didn't want to be there with her but that she couldn't be. Karen had apparently been pretty good while they were at the hospital but as soon as her father showed she had totally broken down again. Obviously there's something wrong with the relationship there but as I told Amanda there are two sides to every story and what Karen sees as an abusive parent may not exactly be that.
Pretty soon Amanda came home when Karen's mother brought her over to pick up Karen's possessions and Amanda told me that she felt that her mother was genuinely upset and really wanted to get her daughter some help and not just haul her back home as her father seemed to want to do. She told Amanda that there was a hospital closer to home that they wanted to take her to and she gave her several hugs and thanked her over and over for being there for Karen as a friend.
A few hours later, Karen's father stopped by to pick up Karen's laptop that hadn't been in with her other things as she had left it on the bed and he told Amanda that Karen had finally admitted to the doctor about the suicide pact she had made. She refused to say who the other person was and he said that he hoped that one of Karen's friends might be able to find out who it was so that teen could get some help also. He said that Karen was going to be admitted to a 10-day treatment program at the hospital in New York and that during that time she wouldn't be able to have any contact with anyone but if Amanda or Nancy found out who the other person was, that they could call and let them know so that they could advise the police and try to get that person some help too. He didn't really seem to be an ogre though Amanda said he made her nervous - most of which I'm sure is based on what Karen had told her.
So ... things definitely didn't go as planned yesterday and rather than having a friend visit for a few days Amanda instead spent several hours comforting a friend who definitely has some issues going on for which she needs professional help. She seemed a bit shell-shocked when she got home from the hospital but I have to give Amanda a lot of credit for being there for Karen and for being a good friend. Turns out a lot of things Karen has told Amanda and others have been lies but Amanda understands that she's got a lot of things going on and she just wants to see her get some help so that she doesn't hurt herself. I think it took awhile for the enormity of the situation to hit her but she did very, very well with everything.
I'm just glad that Karen came here and that we could get her some help without pushing her closer to the edge that she was already standing on. I sincerely hope that the hospital in Long Island can get her on the right track to a long and happy life and I also hope that she's able to work out the problems she has with her father. I can only imagine what her poor mother was going through yesterday and her father too as I'd like to think that he's not as bad as Karen paints him to be. Though again, I don't know what he's really like as like I said, there are two sides to every story and sometimes one side is vastly different than the other.
It's so sad that there are so many kids out there who feel like they can't talk to their parents about the things that are troubling them and situations like this occur but all things considered, this particular story could have had a much sadder ending too.