My closest friend tried to kill herself last night. I was the one who found her and called for help.

She told me two days ago that she’d be going into the hospital, and asked if I could come pick up her cat. When my calls and text messages and e-mails got no response, I thought she was at a doctor visit, or more likely in the hospital already.

I went to her apartment office after work yesterday, to get the keys and explain the situation. I’m her emergency contact person, so that was a simple enough process. I took the elevator upstairs to the fourth floor. When I put the key in and turned it, I found that the door was already unlocked. That was odd. She’s always very concerned about her home and her car being locked. I walked in and immediately noticed that her apartment was in complete disarray. There was a huge pile of clothes on the floor of the bathroom, including a bunch of shirts and a belt hanging from the bent shower rod. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes and fresh fruit. It looked like she’d just come back from the grocery store.

I walked into the living room and saw a person lying on the floor. It couldn’t be her, I thought. She’s at the hospital. After a dumbfounded second I realized that it was her, and feared the worst. She was lying on her side, with her legs on the blanket and her shoulder on the floor. The arm that was trapped underneath her was blue. Her hair was covering her face, and when I pushed it back, her skin looked waxy, and her eyes and lips were extremely dry. Tears came to my eyes as I said her name, told her it was me, told her she was safe. I touched her back and hip to gently shake her. There was no movement or sound. I shook her a little bit harder. Nothing. I felt her neck for a pulse. It was there, and very fast. THANK GOD. I tried to roll her over, and she moaned quietly. THANK GOD. Her eyes opened slightly, then closed again. I called 9-1-1.

They asked if there was any evidence of pills or drugs. I looked around and found some on the counter in the kitchen; two empty bottles, one Ambien and the other Seraquil. She’d mixed them together in a wine glass with some water and drunk some of the cloudy white mixture. The glass was on the counter, still half full.

After hanging up the phone, I went over to kneel beside her. I stroked her back and hair, and said things I hoped would be reassuring, while I waited for the paramedics to arrive. Her cat saw us both on the floor and thought it was cuddle time. She walked over to me, brushed her body against me, and laid on her side by my knee, purring and exposing her belly so that I could pet her. That made me cry even harder.

A few minutes later, the three paramedics arrived. They instantly knew what to do, and were absolute professionals. They asked for her name, and asked what happened. I showed them the empty pill containers and the half-full wine glass. They asked if I knew how long she had been there. I did not, but I guessed maybe an hour or so. They took charge, telling her in loud voices what they were going to do. “[Friend’s name]? I need you to keep your arm relaxed, okay? You might feel a little pin prick, okay? You’re gonna be fine. Just relax, okay [friend’s name]? You’re doing great.” The two firefighters and two policemen arrived soon after. They put on blue latex gloves and inspected the small apartment. I sat against the wall and stayed out of the way. The cat was terrified, and curled up underneath a chair. The policeman picked up the wine glass, held it aloft for a second, and then said to everyone and no one, “Heh. Looks like she made herself a little cocktail.” The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Then the person with the stretcher arrived, and she moaned loudly as the paramedics easily lifted her limp, frail body onto the stretcher and wheeled her out. I stayed behind for about half an hour after that, not knowing what to do or think, crying and trying to comfort the cat at the same time.

I got in my car and drove home with a lump in my throat to e-mail her family. Her sister wrote back right away, asking for more information, and then she wrote back later in the evening to tell me more and more harrowing details. I called a handful friends of mine who know her to tell them what had happened.

She’s alive, and slowly but surely stabilizing, as I’m writing this. She can’t talk yet. She can’t breathe on her own yet, but apparently that’s normal after someone takes that much Ambien. She may have to be on the ventilator for a few days until the drugs run their course. No friend visits for a while. Her vital signs are good. I think she’s going to pull through.

I cried myself to sleep last night, and stayed home from work today, crying and lying in my bed in a state of shock. I backed out of my gig last night, and backed out of the one tonight too. I have to go to her place today to take care of the cat and get her to a pet sitter. It’s going to be very hard to go into that apartment again.

I hope this is something that you never have to deal with.