Recently, Judge Carl Barbier determined some historical items needed to be excluded from his courtroom to speed things up in the BP case, things like previous accidents, fines and commissioned reports, and man, that got me to thinking: when it comes to my job, what is it that slows me down, drags things out…
What is it that simply takes too long?
Easy…as an Adult Crisis Counselor, that would be suicide assessments…
Oh yeah, way too long and I should know, they’re a big part of what I do. I take calls from emergency room doctors and nurses, from local cops and local lock-ups, all requesting I come to the hospital, the home, the jail, the wherever to talk to whomever to determine just how much at risk of suicide they just might be.
And this process, it can really take a long time.
Too long for me, as after many, many years of doing this work, I’ve become increasingly concerned about efficiency. When I show up, I only want that moment’s immediate facts. Police involvement? Suicidal statements? A plan? An attempt? Did the person take pills, cut their wrists, or maybe they just threatened to do something drastic…Then and there, what did they do, what got me here today, tonight?
Least important is their history.
You see, getting their history just takes way too long. I don’t want to know if they tried suicide before. I don’t want to know if they see or have seen a psychiatrist, if they are taking medications, if they’ve been depressed, lost their job, their wife, their house, their dog, their parents, their health…whatever. You get the idea. Knowing the person’s history forces me to take into account their answers to countless questions, the asking if which eats up a lot of time.
Context and information? Completely overrated.
Just ask Judge Barbier…
He knows what I’m talking about.
Yeah, the Justice Department and the steering committee lawyers, they wanted to introduce information about British Petroleum’s horrible safety record, about the fifteen people who died at Texas City when the refinery exploded…or the previous fines the company received for clean water act violations in Alaska at Prudhoe Bay, you know, when they had the other oil spill…or all that shit that went down in Scotland. Death, injury, environmental impact and degradation…with BP, there are tons of this stuff ,but man, that kind of history, that kind of context…it just takes too long, too much time, a trial within a trial…and besides, how important to the Justice department’s allegations that BP was an unsafe company would demonstrating BP’s previous history of unsafe practices be?
I know, I’m shrugging my shoulders…
But it’s probably of the same magnitude as knowing whether the guy I saw in the emergency room last night had a history of suicide attempts. This guy, his wife called the cops and said he took an overdose of pills and the guy said his wife was lying. She also said he threatened suicide. He said he didn’t. She said he needed help. He said he just wanted to go home. She said he bragged about how he could fool everyone into thinking he was just fine and how when he got home he’d try it again. He said that was a lie.
Now, maybe it might have helped…a little…to know if this guy had attempted suicide before, had previous hospitalizations, emergency detentions, or to know whether he was depressed and why, or maybe to know if their was a previously completed psychological evaluation I might take a look at…
But, you know…Barbier decided he didn’t want to see the report from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and all the conclusions contained therein regarding fault, and similarly, I don’t need to see what some psychiatrist thought of my client’s mental health, or his history, or what such things might have to do with why he was sitting in that emergency room.
It’s all really just so many scattered details…details which would require me to ask way too many questions…questions that would take up way too much of my time.
Skip it. What could possibly go wrong?
I know it’s my job and all but I’ve kinda been on a John Woo film kick of late, and I don’t mean the mediocre John Woo flicks he did for American film companies. I mean the Chinese flicks…damned good, and besides, I just got back from New York last night and I’m kind of tired so context and history and patterns of behavior…overrated.
Maybe I’ll invite Barbier over to the office. We can watch Red Cliff, part one and two…it may be over four hours long, but with our streamlined approach to our work, we got time.
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Have a nice day.