How to Deal with Suicides
The following is a report that indicates how you might recognize
suicidals, and how you might deal with them. But a warning:
Suicide can be a very complex issue, and it might be better to
have a professional deal with this issue if it comes up, but if
this is very difficult to attain, this guide is a very good
alternative to follow if you have no other solution to the
CHOOSING TO LIVE by Dr. Thomas E. Ellis & Dr. Cory F.Newman
A suicidal person once said "It's like I want to be dead, but
1) Suicide is an Ugly Word. - To help get rid of this stigma,
you should think of suicide as a problem-solving situation.
Basically there is no such thing as a rational suicide.
2)Who are the Suicidals? - Basically there are two types. They
are either extremely depressed (mostly men), or they are
extremely controlling (mostly women). The extremely depressed
are interested in death (life is too painful) whereas the
extremely controlling just want attention and are afraid of
abandonment. One way in dealing with the extremely depressed, if
you can eliminate the stigma in talking about suicide, is to set
up two columns (one headed "advantages of living" and the other
headed "advantages of dying") on a piece of paper, and have the
potential Suicidal list the various advantages as he or she sees
it. If the advantages of dying outweigh the advantages of
living, the counselor has to work with the potential suicidal on
the advantages of living. Some of the risk factors that one
should look for in assessing whether one is suicidal or not are
1) has he or she tried it before, 2) has suicide been part of
the family's history, 3) is the person deeply depressed or
extremely withdrawn, 4) is there excessive substance abuse, and
5) is there a specific plan in place to commit suicide.
3)Who are the Suicidals - Continued - They are usually the
people with strong negative backgrounds, either genetically or
environmentally. And to help those with this heritage, it's good
to continue encouraging those with these suicide tendencies to
continue listing reasons for living on a piece of paper.
4) Should Suicidals be Changed? - No, but their decision-making
skills have to be greatly improved, which means they have to see
both sides of an issue in order to make an intelligent decision.
This means they also have to see the advantages of suicide with
their various downsides in order to make an intelligent choice.
This should all be done on paper as well so that the potential
suicidals can see it all written down before them.
5) Handling a Suicidal Impulse Crisis.- One should try to delay
the suicidal impulse crisis, so that the crisis would no longer
be so urgent to complete. And to do this you could encourage the
Suicidal to sleep it off, talk to a trusted friend about their
situation, (This is why the Suicide Prevention hotline is so
important), or call 911 or any other emergency telephone number.
A longer delaying tactic could be to have them reflect in
writing on any unfinished business they would want to accomplish
before they die, and encourage them to pursue these goals. Then
they should start to enjoy living again. And a third possibility
would be for the Suicidals to begin nurturing themselves by
keeping themselves well groomed, listening to soothing music,
enjoying good food, appreciating beautiful scenes or looking
after their pets. But this will take some initial will power.
6) Thinking and Feeling -You feel what you think, whether
consciously or unconsciously, but your thoughts are not
7) How to Change One's Thinking - To change one's negative
suicidal feelings, one has to change one's thinking. There are
several ways in which to do this. There is the functional
approach (after the negative thought surfaces, ask yourself
where is it getting me), the logical/empirical approach (after
the negative thought surfaces, ask yourself where is the
evidence for such a thought), and the questioning approach
(after the negative thought surfaces, ask yourself are there
other possibilities for such a happening). You can try all these
approaches and see what works best for you. Everyone is
different. But always do this in writing because it stays with
you much longer, and persevere in your efforts because it's only
successful if you keep on trying. And if none of these methods
work, try the behavior approach whereby do the opposite of what
you're feeling, because eventually your behavior will start to
effect and change your thinking.
8) Coping with Suicidal Feelings - There are also ways to
accommodate your feelings while you're in the process of
adjusting your thinking. This can be done by obtaining support
from empathizers, ventilating your feelings appropriately,
engaging in constructive distractions, or participating in
enjoyable recreational activities, and practicing various
relaxation techniques (ie, meditation).
9) Learning to Solve Problems - Suicidals actually believe that
death is the solution to all problems, but suicide is really the
problem to end all solutions. So if you want to solve problems,
you have to forget about death. And if you're underestimating
your ability to solve problems, you should look at your past
experience in recalling if you solved other people's problems as
well as your own.. If you did, it suggests that you still have
the capability in solving problems. But what are the ingredients
that you need in order to solve problems efficiently. There are
actually 6. They are 1) that you have to have the
problem-solving mind-set, 2) that you have to have the ability
to define the problem, 3) that you have to have the ability to
generate alternative ideas to solve problems (brainstorming), 4)
that you have to evaluate these ideas and decide on a course of
action, 5) that you then have to take this action and test the
results, and 6) that you have to realize that the results don't
have to be perfect.
10) Other Skills to Improve your Life - There are some other
approaches you can use to lessen suicidal tendencies. Some of
these are 1) learning how to become more assertive, 2) improving
your relationship-enhancement skills by making your presence
known to others, being responsive to kind words and invitations,
making a point of treating others with consideration and
respect, and learning relationship skills through how you
associate with your pets, and 3) involving yourself strongly in
helping other people.
11) Developing a Philosophy of Life - But behind all these
techniques, one has to discover a new, but meaningful philosophy
of life for these potential suicidals, so that they would CHOOSE
TO LIVE a much more abundant life, as opposed to dying
Appendix - Guide for Concerned Friends
Signs to Look for 1) The person talks about suicide. 2) The
person makes final plans. (gives away prized possessions) 3) The
person's behavior pattern changes in disturbing ways. 4) The
person behaves in ways that are self-injurious or stem to invite
danger or harm. 5) The person has experienced significant losses
in a short period of time. 6) The person suffers from a chronic
illness. 7) The person has suffered extreme social humiliation.
8) The person abuses mind-altering substances and has access to
firearms or other instruments of self-destruction. 9) The person
has tried it before. 10) Suicide seems to run in the family.
In any of these situations, don't overreact or under-react, take
the middle ground and dialogue with the suicidal to see what's
really going on with him or her in a very calm, and
nonjudgmental way. But don't ever feel his or her feelings are
your responsibility. They have to make the choice themselves
whether they want to live or die.
Summary of the book by Corbin M. Wright