Saturday, January 6, 2018


R was terminally ill in a “sick bay” at a home. He told me confidentially that he would commit suicide through an overdose of morphine (he took doses of morphine from a bottle next to his bed). Why did he tell me that? I don’t know. Soon after that, they found him dead -- and wondered where his bottle of morphine had gone -- it was missing. I didn’t share this with his widow -- it might have caused her needless distress -- assuming, that is, that she was not involved herself. OBSERVATION: This is an example where someone trusts a minister with critically confidential information. If the minister reveals it, the confidentiality is destroyed, and the opportunity for spiritual ministry is probably over. Yet if the minister does not reveal it, there could be serious consequences. In this case, I spoke to the sister about the general risk of patient suicide, and felt that this reconciled the tension.

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